A few weeks ago, I read an article on TIME about bibliotherapy, where instead of diagnosing patients with medication, there are bibliotherapists who suggest certain books to patients to help them with issues they are facing.
When reading that article, the first thought that came to mind that certainly there could be ‘drama-therapy’ too, where therapists diagnose their patients to watch certain dramas with similar ends in mind. I’ve certainly found this to be a strength of k-dramas, which generally have a positive view of the world and are geared towards celebrating the good in life. While I generally take a more objective perspective in my reviews, this entry will be more personal and reflective. The dramas I’ve been following lately have provoked much thought on certain issues:
Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim
As the storyline develops, it’s clear that the series is keen to portray Dong Joo as a medical professional who’s done well in his examinations and is in all senses a good doctor. However, the way he treats his patients is largely professional and distant. He is chided by Master Kim, an experienced doctor, as being “insincere”, which we also clearly see being played out as his focus is on building his specialisation, career advancement and seeing each patient as a case, rather than relating to them as a life to be saved.
Viewing Dong-Joo led me to also think about my own professional role as an educator, where I may also have committed similar “errors” as Dong-Joo in being overly distant and “professional” in discharging of my duties. Instead of imbuing more humanity in my role, I’ve seen every situation faced in terms of issues to be resolved and the best way to do things. I’ve thought about educators which I looked up to and I realise that one thing that characterises them is their heart for education and students, not so much their intellect. This also reminded me of what I read from Parker Palmer years ago, that teaching is the only job that demands so much from within us, from our inner selves. I’ve thus been thinking about how I can be a more ‘human’ professional when I return.
Viewing the storyline of Yoo Jin’s downfall is a good reminder of the importance of decisions and choices. When she speaks of her decision to ignore Anna’s mum’s plea for help, she says she “obeyed the commands of the devil within me”. Her choice at that moment led to her descent into evil for the rest of her life, a choice that bothered her all the way till death.
Cliched as it may sound, we are constantly making choices to obey certain “voices”, whether it’s that of our conscience, or that of what the world demands of us. As a Christian, it’s a choice between God’s word and the devil. While we may not have faced as pivotal decisions as Yoojin that pertain to murder, we do make choices everyday about whether to listen to God or to the devil. It may be a choice of whether to bless someone or stay in our comfort zone, or whether to share the gospel with others or to stay silent. As these choices ultimately determine whether a person comes to believe in Christ, we can say these are “life or death” choices as well. Yoo Jin’s downfall also revealed that we should never downplay any decision that we make, no matter how small they are. The wrong path is often a result not just of one huge, bad decision, but a series of small, wrong decisions.
My Wife is Having an Affair This week
This has to be the most powerful drama I’ve watched in a while and the forums certainly reflect this. While k-drama forums are usually platforms for fangirling or criticism of the plot or characterisation, the forums discussing this show have been intensely personal, with forum users sharing their personal stories of marriage, adultery, forgiveness and reconciliation. It’s been a very different experience as forum users debate over the possibility of marriage after an affair and the challenges of marriage.
Viewing the marriage of Hyun-Woo and Soo-Yeon makes it clear that their marriage was afflicted by communication issues, even before Soo-Yeon cheated on her husband. The affair itself wasn’t the problem of the marriage; the problem was the marriage itself which had suffered from neglect over the years.
This is an important truth that all married couples need to take note of, especially as kids come along. The interactions between Hyun-Woo and Soo-Yeon had been reduced to discussions over picking up the kid and child-care arrangements. We don’t get a single conversation between them about their days, their feelings and their challenges. It’s a marriage that has grown cold over the years. It’s led me to reflect on my own marriage, that even in the midst of tending to two kids, it’s important to focus on my relationship with my wife and never to let the marriage grow cold.
This drama would certainly be one worth using for ‘drama-therapy’, to help couples facing difficulties reflect on their marriage. Of course, there would need to be someone to help focus on the key issues but that’s no different from a book, which is also subject to different interpretations. Who knows, perhaps “drama-therapy” would one day be an established field of treatment as well? 🙂