In the year plus since I returned to Nigeria and promptly lost the ‘returnee’ label, the Asian presence in the home I share with my mother and cousins has become really obvious. I came back as one of the rare Nigerian fans of Korean pop and sageuk, it was very lonely. But as time passed, I discovered that one of my cousins, let’s call her H has nursed an interest for Korean dramas having been exposed to arirang during her university days. Another cousin N, has since found employment at the Korean Cultural Centre here. Thanks to her, we all have KOICA calenders for 2011 and because the Chinese embassy seems to be close with the cultural centre, there’s also a Chinese calendar showcasing the tools of the scholarly trade in the sitting room. Thanks to N, I get to attend awesome cultural events at the Hilton, both Korean and Chinese. N now claims 2NE1 as her best girl group with ‘Go Away’ being her favourite track and BoA’s ‘Hurricane Venus’ as her ringtone (she’s made me like BoA).
I was abroad the over the Easter vacations and H gave me money with express instructions to purchase the Brilliant Legacy box set. Brilliant Legacy, aka Shining Inheritance (찬란한 유산) is a Korean drama. It is basically a Cinderella story of sorts and for a while now, its been shown on a local television station every Sunday morning. I used to wake up before 10am on Sundays just to watch Brilliant Legacy but after a while we couldn’t rely on AIT.
Here’s a synopsis of Brilliant Legacy from d-addicts;
Go Eun Sung’s life is similar to Cinderella’s. After her father died, her step-mother, Baek Sung Hee, took away all of her assets and her younger brother, Eun Woo, suddenly disappears without a trace. Despite this, Eun Sung preservers and works really hard to fulfill her dreams. When the CEO of a food company, Jang Sook Ja, suffers amnesia and can’t remember who she is Eun Sung takes her in. However, Eun Sung does not know that she is the grandmother of Sun Woo Hwan, the man who she switched bags with at the airport. How will their constant bickering lead them to realize that they care more about each other than they let on?
As a fan of the stuff I’m a fan of, it’s not that easy to find others that enjoy stuff with me. I had so much fun watching Sungkyunkwan Scandal with Mixed Tapes and Linear Notes because together we could scream gleefully during appropriate scenes (anyone else ship Yeorim and Geol Oh? OMGOMGOMG).
For the past week, all four of us have gathered round the TV to watch Brilliant Legacy. We watch at least 2 episodes per night and tonight we’ll be watching the finale. Watching K-dramas with my cousins is another affair. It is fun too and the reason it’s fun is because we all talk and sometimes shout at the TV. On a normal day we make wry commentary while watching TV shows. I only just noticed our television watching habits and our propensity to insult last week while watching our Nigerian soap Tinsel I said out loud, ‘What kind of dirty nonsense award?’ in reference to the program. And then it struck me, ‘dirty nonsense’? Really, is that a Nigerian thing? But that is only the tip of the iceberg. Ode, didinrin, mumu, oloshi, different ways of saying ‘fool’ in Yoruba are constantly leveled at characters that misbehaved. ‘Look at this idiot!’, ‘If it were me, I’d slap her’, ‘How can he take that?’
Two Korean words have become staple at home; oppa (elder brother to a female) and arasseo (‘to know’ in past tense casual speech, usually just means OK). When I explained what oppa means, B just couldn’t get why any woman would call her boyfriend ‘older brother’. ‘Oppa ko, oppa ni’*. As the drama progressed and it became clear that any woman in the drama who called the guy she liked ‘oppa’ wasn’t getting anything, we sort of concluded that a woman calling any guy ‘oppa’ means he isn’t, and will never be, her boyfriend. In Brilliant Legacy, Seung Mi (Moon Chae Won) calls Hwan (Lee Seung Ki) ‘oppa’ but Hwan doesn’t like her that way, he’s in love with Eunsung (Han Hyo Joo) who calls Joon Se (Bae Soo Bin) ‘oppa’ but doesn’t like him even though he loves her. And Joon Se gets called ‘oppa’ by Jung, Hwan’s younger sister, who nurses a one-sided love and wants to marry him.
My cousins think Lee Seung Gi is handsome, and even though he fits my type with his baby face I’m always saying he’s not cute because his character is a jerk. The same thing goes for Seung Mi, who is beautiful (but not to me because her character is also stupid). Seung Mi’s mother is ‘iya aje’ (a witch) who never rests because she’s always plotting her next move. Joon Se is the guy that Eunsung should marry because he is so good even though he messes up sometimes. Hwan’s mother and Jung act like bimbos but we like them. And Hye Ri, Eunsung’s friend, we like because of her spirit even though she gets annoying because of how she’s always campaigning for Joon Se to be with Eunsung.
This past weekend, someone I went to watch a movie with complained that I kept on making comments and made the movie less fun but another cousin B said; ‘But that is how we watch movies here.’ And it struck me how behaviour that is normal at home is not outside it.
Imagine this, readers of this blog know I’m a history freak and I usually only watch sageuk but I found that I enjoyed Brilliant Legacy. I actually really like it! I think that’s pretty obvious, thanks to this post. With only the last episode left to watch, I can’t help but wonder what K-drama we’ll watch next.
*Yoruba sarcasm. ‘Oppa ko, oppa ni’ will translate to ‘it is not oppa, it is oppa’ and is just a way of being sarcastic.