The Hallyu wave has taken over the world by force. Both K-pop and K-dramas have become recurring topics of debate amongst the youth. The presence of handsome “Oppas” as well as heartwarming love stories which make girls swoon, makes them wish to move to South Korea so that they can live their K-drama life.
However, there are some K-dramas that show the grim reality of the students in South Korea, who become victims of the social pressure to outperform their classmates.
Today, we will be looking at the two most popular K-dramas that present the pressures to which a student is exposed.
The drama aired from November 23, 2018, to February 1, 2019, and it instantly gained an excessive amount of television ratings. The drama focuses on the people living in Sky Castle, a luxurious residence that catered to the upper-class elites living in Seoul. The materialistic desires of the parents in creating three generations of doctors make a victim out of their children. The cutthroat competition renders everyone friend less and offers an advantage to the private tutors to use those feelings of jealousy for their benefit.
The drama premiered on October 26, 2020, and it is the first of the series, which again gained a high rating from its first broadcast. The students are presented as both the victims and the abusers as they try to match their parents’ expectations of excellent performance. Although the drama falls under the “revenge” genre, it depicts the tragic consequences of continuing dominating parenthood.
A Comparison of Both
The setting of both the dramas, that is Sky Castle and Hera Palace (Penthouse) become symbols of oppression and suppression of freedom. The children in Sky Castle are pushed by their parents to score better to secure a position at Seoul National University (SNU) which is considered to be the most prestigious university in Seoul. On the other hand, children in Hera Palace are in a race to become the best prima donna and win the Cheong Ah trophy.
The theme of parents’ love is also present as a constant in both the dramas. However, this love does not have positive effects on the children, rather it pushes them down the path of psychological trauma and abuse. To make her daughter Ye Suh the topper, her mother would take help of unfair means like exposing her daughter to a tutor who is a suspected murderer (Sky Castle). In Penthouse, Cheon Seojin similarly applies her power and position to admit her daughter to the music school by taking the position of another deserved student.
The two dramas take the viewers on a long and painful journey as one becomes aware of the demands that society places on the child. The burden and strain upon an individual are enough to make him/her succumb to social and familial expectations. The dramas are a mirror of the society which pleads for change.
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