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Ambitious television shows: where are they?

Did you ever watch a foreign movie where Korean was spoken with a terrible accent? You didn’t enjoy watching that movie very much, did you? I feel your pain. I get the same impression when hearing ‘’Polish’’ spoken in various international TV productions. I realize foreign language nuances aren’t that important to many English speakers and I understand certain plot aspects need simplifying. Still, it shouldn’t be done at the expense of logic and common sense.

While there are TV shows centering on exolinguistics — the study of alien languages — it’s commonplace to hear aliens in a different galaxy speak flawless American English. For some strange reason, many aliens happen to be wearing makeup and high heels. It feels as though every civilization in the universe is a reflection of human society. The same applies to alternate reality Earths where language and cultural differences are almost never explored. There are TV series, such as ‘’Fringe,’’ which mention interdimensional language differences. In the alternate reality, Manhattan is spelled with one T. But that’s it. No mention of different words, accents and cultural customs.

‘’It’s too philosophical,’’ I hear you say. ‘’No one is going to watch a philosophical TV show.’’

I disagree. It’s time to stop underestimating the global audience. The quality of a particular TV show depends on the minds behind it. There’s a global market for TV productions covering philosophical angles. South Korean TV content is moving in that direction by fearlessly tackling difficult and sensitive subjects.

Imagine a TV series based on a seemingly predictable premise: a Western businessman dies and goes into the light. He reincarnates with memories intact and ends up in an alternate reality South Korea where magic is real. He wants to communicate with the world but all his new Korean parents can hear are screams. Worse yet, he is now a girl. He is socialized to be a South Korean woman while struggling to hold on to the Western identity. Will the blending of two identities cause the main character to lose his mind and become a serial killer? How will his language evolve? Is K-pop different in the other world? So many fascinating questions and plot twists to explore. I’m perfectly aware there are many TV shows about reincarnation and more comical aspects of identity change but I have yet to see a TV show delving into the depths of such a multicultural and multidimensional metamorphosis.

I’d gladly write the script myself but I lack the necessary scriptwriting experience and cultural awareness. I’m sure there is an industrious scriptwriter somewhere in South Korea who can turn the above idea into a global smash hit cleverly promoting the Korean culture in the process. The Korea Times is read by people from all walks of life, so it’s possible someone like that is going to come across my opinion piece. South Korea is a cultural superpower. Why not make the country’s cultural superpower status even more impressive?

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