The dramas “Big Man” and “Golden Cross” are climbing in the ratings.
What these two drama plots have in common is that their heroes are exacting revenge. In “Big Man” viewers are rooting for Kang Ji Hwan to get his just revenge on Daniel Choi’s bad chaebol character. In “Golden Cross” revenge must be weighed against love.
Revenge is the most popular plot theme in programs at the moment. Revenge is also the theme in “Triangle,” “You’re All Surrounded” and “Doctor Stranger.” In “Triangle” Lee Bum Soo wants revenge against the man who killed his father. In “You’re All Surrounded” Lee Seung Gi’s character wants to implicate Cha Seung Won in his mother’s death. In “Doctor Stranger” Park He Jin’s character wants to destroy the doctor and the hospital that killed his father.
What is it about revenge dramas that viewer’s find so satisfying?
In a world where real bad guys often go free, it may be satisfying to see that k-drama bad guys occasionally get the justice they deserve. In the same way that k-dramas are good at drawing viewers into the emotion of a romance or a tragic loss, they are gifted at inspiring a desire for justice.
K-drama villains are bad, so bad, they deserve to be taken down. They kill people without remorse. They are not satisfied with taking a character’s money, they want him to go to jail for a crime he did not commit. They want to see him crushed without mercy. It’s almost a pleasure to hate them. How bad do you have to be to want to kill someone to steal his heart, as the villains did at the beginning of “Big Man?”
But k-dramas also show that revenge can be poisonous.
For example, in “Shark,” Kim Nam Gil seeks revenge at the expense of reuniting with his lost love.
And revenge can also be based on a false assumption. In “City Hunter,” Lee Min Ho is raised to exact revenge for the death of his father and in that sense his whole life is wasted.
Many people who enjoy watching revenge dramas would never in real life exact revenge. And if they did want to, they would probably not bear a grudge for a lifetime as Park Hae Jin does in “Doctor Stranger.” But that determination makes it all the more compelling to watch.
K-dramas also make the victims seem even more pitiable so you can’t help but want them to punish those who have been cruel to them.
Last year’s “Secrets” is a good example. In that drama Hwang Jung Eum’s pitiable character is treated very badly. She is crushed and stepped on only to rise victorious.
Other great revenge dramas are “Miss Ripley,” “East of Eden,” “Secrets,” and “Nice Guy.” Which revenge dramas do you like? Let us know.