Sunday, July 04, 2021 — (In 19 days, July’s fullest moon [“Thunder”] will rise.)
Without fully comprehending what made this video series so fixating and unable to resist it, I binge-watched all 24 episodes of “Mr. Sunshine” (one season, Korean with subtitles) on Netflix.
What’s easy to understand is its superb artistic components. Gorgeous videography, compelling soundtrack (Asian flavor with Western influence), and lead characters introduced in their childhoods by endearing young actors.
Knowing little about Korean history, and nothing about this series aside from visual and auditory attractiveness, I felt lost among its threads, but the overall beauty held me. Afterwards, I researched to understand better the story line, and after learning, became very interested in Korean history and culture.
The series plot is multi-pronged. A love story, told Asian style, passionate with little physical contact. A history story, beginning in early Twentieth Century, as Japan flexes muscle (supported by America and Great Britain) to take over Korea.
The series opened my eyes, made me want to understand more historical Korea’s people and politics.
We know modern Korea. Common knowledge begins with the Korean Conflict and the politics dividing Korea North and South. We know that today many countries influence Korean politics–current events but little else.
The Korean peninsula had settled and literate societies as early as the fourth century BCE. Gradually competing groups and kingdoms merged into a common national identity. Korea reached its near-present boundaries during the Koryo Dynasty (918-1392), from where derived the Western name “Korea”.
After invasions during the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, Korea enforced a policy of strictly limited contact with all other countries. It became abnormally isolated, or a “hermit kingdom” as Westerners knew it.
In the latter half of the Nineteenth Century the Chinese Empire declined. Western powers began to vie for ascendancy in East Asia and Korea became an object of competing interests. Japan, China, and Russia were main rivals. After Japan defeated China and Russia in war (1895-1905), it became a predominant power on the Korean peninsula.
In 1910 Japan annexed Korea as a colony, and for the next 35 years ruled the country in a manner strict and often brutal.
“Mr. Sunshine” takes place in the late Nineteenth Century, with Japan beginning to interrupt and shake up Korea’s feudal culture. The story presented is multi-faceted, about the stresses of loving much–family, culture, and tradition, in a world rapidly changing and brutal physically and psychologically.
After having done story background learning, I’ll watch again the series. It’s a beautifully presented study of post-industrial social and human conflict, about economically and politically driven post-industrial modernization, and how it was forced upon a slower economy.
Dear Friends: The “University of Netflix” is gaining ground in influence similar to “U. of YouTube”. Diana