I really enjoyed last year’s line of Korean dramas because a number of them dealt with the possibility of reincarnation or living another life after one’s death. It interests me how different their ideas were about what happens after a person’s passing than the ones (or one) we have in our country, though I can only speak for the Catholics.
We’re taught from an early age that if we do good in this life, we go straight to heaven after spending some time in purgatory. And if we don’t, it’s down to hell we go. But what if that’s not the case? What if the new life that they speak of is simply what it is – the same soul in a different physical body?
The world is an egg.
Though I do believe in the Christian idea of heaven and hell, I find myself more at peace after reading this short story called The Egg by Andy Weir. It talks about the certainty of reincarnation while proclaiming love and kindness as essential to human action. While it doesn’t directly punish the evil, it tells us that we must understand our place in the world while we live with others.
It’ll be a pretty long post if I tell the story of the Egg, but here’s a summary. Essentially, we are reincarnated as someone from either the future or the past and it really doesn’t matter who it is. Sometimes, we are reborn as someone in the present time that it becomes possible to interact with ourselves at some point. We just don’t recognize it because we’re only aware of our own lifespan. “You are Hitler and the millions he killed, you are Jesus and you are everyone who followed him.”
K-Dramas experiment with life after death themes.
These K-Dramas explain life after death quite interestingly, some with little to no loopholes as if they’ve dedicated one whole day during pre-production to talk about what really happens after we die. Though their stories are not dedicated to this theme, it’s fascinating to see one drama after another play with the possibilities.
Scarlet Heart: Ryeo
Cast: IU, Lee Joon Gi, Kim Ha Neul, Baekhyun, Ji Soo, Nam Joo Hyuk
Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Period Drama
I love Scarlet Heart because I’m a sucker for romance and period dramas. They also dealt with the possibility of being reborn as someone with memories of your past life. I’m thinking there’s definitely a possibility that memories from your past life resurface as dreams, and are eventually thrown back to you as soon as a catalyst appears. In IU’s case, when she came back from the Goryeo era after a year in coma, she didn’t remember Wang So at first until she found herself in a museum with paintings from the past.
Goblin/Guardian: The Lonely and Great God
Cast: Gong Yoo, Lee Dong Wook, Kim Go Eun, Yoon In Na, Yook Sungjae, Lee El
Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Drama
Goblin is the K-Drama that blew my mind. Besides being a destined encounter between a goblin (Gong Yoo) and a ‘missing soul’ (Kim Go Eun), the drama really discusses who or what runs our life (us or the Deity) and what happens the moment we’re born and as we die. Grim reapers live among us too, and will offer you a cup of tea when you die to erase all memories of the past life. You can also choose to keep them.
My favorite scene was when Ji Eun Tak, the missing soul, meets death without regrets or worries after a perfect day saying, “That perfection must’ve been what brought me to this moment. So that I wouldn’t be late. I couldn’t be one second late—this was my fate,”
Legend of the Blue Sea
Cast: Lee Min Ho, Jun Ji Hyun, Lee Hee Joon, Shin Won Ho, Sung Dong Il
Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Drama
Although Legend of the Blue Sea really didn’t dwell in reincarnation, they touched on the possibility of the past repeating. Ho Joon Jae (Lee Min Ho) dreams a lot about his past life and relates it to what’s happening in his time now. We also see snippets of the past having the same exact characters as the present, even up to the little girl who can hear mermaids. The past might be tragic for the two main characters, but this drama teaches us that we hold our own destinies and we are fully able to change the course of our lives.
This makes me want to know who I was in the past and how similar our lives may be!