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Watching Korean Dramas in Yoruba

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?’

L-R: Eunsung, Joon Se, Hwan and Seung Mi

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.


  1. Hi! Loved your post on your viewing habits with your family. I am pointing my wife to your blog cos she is also a huge K-Pop and K-drama fan.

    I have to put up with the sounds of 2NE1 & Big Bang blaring out of her laptop speakers all day and when she starts following a particular K-Drama.

    Very cool to see other Nigerian geeks out there. Even better when they’re female.

    Going through the rest of your blog now as I really liked your guest posts on Beyond Victoriana.

    1. Yegwa! I’ve heard about you 😀

      I think it’s awesome that you’re being exposed to K-pop thanks to your wife. Don’t tell me you don’t like Big Bang.

      Nigerian geeks FTW! Thanks for reading my posts on Beyond Victoriana, I have a new one coming soon.

      1. Heard about me? Huh? From who?

        I actually don’t mind Big Bang any more. Generally speaking I don’t really pay attention to their style of music, but its good enough that I can now hum quite a few of them and I really like G-Dragon’s whole thing 🙂

        1. I believe we have a mutual acquaintance though I’m not sure if you know him IRL or not. And you also follow me on Twitter right?

          Big Bang is awesome and so is GD. You should kindly ask your wife to play you some GD&TOP, if she has their music.

  2. ah – hahaha – this is the aforementioned wife. Just for the record I do not *blare* 2ne1 and bigbang from my lappy all day, I *play* them and my other favourites for some of the day and occasionally sing and dance along.
    That said…holy mackerel, I’ve semi known about you for ages i think via sugabelly and I’ve read some stuff by you but I had NO idea you were a fellow hallyu fever victim!!! My current family of fellow spazzers (whom I love) are 90% east asian so the idea of other nigerian girls i can talk kdramas with…soooooooo happy ^0^!!! Seriously if I’d known you sooner I would’ve been happy to lend you my brilliant legacy box set because that show is AMAZING!!!!! (Are they really showing it on AIT??? *faints*)
    Anyways, I wish I was in Abuja. I have more things coming in and plan to slowly get more still (like Sungkyunkwan Scandal which I haven’t seen but comes highly recommended). Have you seen Secret Garden? That is currently my all time no 1 drama and I cannot recommend it enough.
    Nice “Oppa” theory there. I think you might be on to something! I didn’t call my sig.other “Oppa” cos I’m older than him and now we’re married. Hmmm…!

    1. How come I’ve never met you online before?! Where have you been, I’ve always wanted someone Nigerian to scream with me over Korean pop culture.

      Yes they are still showing Brilliant Legacy on AIT, every Sunday at 10am. I had to wake up early on Sundays when I was still relying on AIT to view the drama. I’ve seen Sungkyunkwan Scandal and I liked the soundtrack and Geol Oh and Yeorim. I’m not sure I liked the drama as a whole but I can be like that sometimes. I’ve just finished watching Personal Taste, and no I haven’t seen Secret Garden.

      Oh please don’t even try with ‘oppa’ no way XD

      1. As for screaming over kpop culture, I’m here for you!! Lol! Dunno why you haven’t met me online before but I’m glad that’s been rectified!! We probably just roll in separate circles? I think we both know Sugabelly and that’s where we intersect.
        Ooh, I started PT but my source ran dry so I stopped for a while. Did you like it? Are you going to try and see Lee Min Ho’s new drama, City Hunter?
        I’m currently forcing my hubby, sisters and parents (yes, even my Dad) to watch Secret Garden. I’m getting the best results from my folks! Lol! After that I will force feed them Marry Me Mary which stars my main K. Actor bias Jang Geun Suk!
        Are you into kpop too or is that just your cousin? And how did your cousin manage to get Korean Cultural Centre hook up!!? Mad respect!
        On Brilliant Legacy: I wasn’t really able to crush on any of the guys in the show. LSG was too baby cheeked for me and BSB Oppa, nice body notwithstanding, had a face that according to my sisters was too “matured” (died laughing at that description). But I still liked them both in the end, BSB for being an angel and LSG for turning all adorable in the end! *sigh* Funnily enough, my best character was Iya Aje!! It’s true that she was a straight up bitch but you have to give her points for boldness and resourcefulness!! It’s her moves that kept that show going! I was always wondering what the hell she was going to pull next! Plus that lady was rocking some mad accessories through out the show!
        On the whole, Brilliant Legacy was a great show for me and my fam. I think it’s a fantastic gateway drug for K.Pop madness.^^
        Oh lord, what a long reply! Better end this thesis!

        1. Yeah, it must have been Sugabelly.

          Okay if you’re even in Abuja, I can give all the Korean dramas I currently have to you. We could have an exchange too, because there are no more Korean dramas to watch at home now…

          Yes I listen to K-pop, I can’t say I had a hand in getting my cousin interested in K-pop. Long story about the KCC thingy.

          Oh I love baby cheeks! I wrote a post several years back on how a Korean lady dissected my ‘type’ of Korean idol by saying I like ‘gay-looking guys and guys with baby faces.’ So LSG works for me, even though I hated it when he was a meanie.

          Iya Aje was alright but at a point it was like, please just let it go woman! Her accessories were always on point though.

          And thanks for the thesis 😀

  3. Glad you found relatives to share your interest in K-dramas. I just finished Secret Garden and I loved it. Probably the best one I’ve watched so far of course I’ve only watched 5. I knew the general plot from watching Big Bang’s parody but I enjoyed the strong female lead and the guy was the perfect K-drama combination of annoying/charming/love sick.

  4. I loved this post…

    I’mn ot a hard core Korean fan, but it creeps up on me little by little. I too was a bit like what? I don’t get it, but me thinks it’s about time I start watching a new/old Korean series (maybe coffee prince?… I know, I know its really old).

    I remember when I practically begged my mom and siblings to watch Jang go me (sp?) I thought it was an awesome story that they would love it… well, after about a month of telling them “watch this, watch this” they finally did. I actually didn’t finish the series (started watching it dubbed in Arabic and realized that it was edited as well, some of the story lines were just plain cut out… and can’t find the rest of the Arabic version). But my family did, and still talks about it.

    Maybe just a little encouragement will get more people into your fold. Congrats on finding your niche in Nigeria 🙂

    1. Thank you gazelle.

      I don’t consider myself a hardcore Korean fan either. And I haven’t watched Coffee Prince but I’ve heard great things. I used to discriminate with K dramas, only wanting to watch sageuks (historical dramas) but these days I find myself watching modern dramas so maybe I’ll check out Coffee Prince. And do you know ‘Jang go me’s English title? I’m not sure which drama you’re talking about ^^;

      I’m still in the process of turning people over to the ‘dark’ side of Korean pop culture love. I can’t say it’s working though 😉

  5. I can’t believe that you still like those stupid Korean dramas…Where did you find the time to watch it after work??

    1. Jin-chan!

      I don’t think I liked Korean dramas that much before. Watching them helps me unwind after work so there’s always time, also my weekends are usually free.

      And you, do you still like G-Dragon? Or are you still only interested in older actors? (you’re the Jin-chan I personally know right?)

  6. I am so happy. I never thought I’d find another Nigerian who watches these things. I’ve seen Taiwanese, Japanese and Korean dramas. I’m a student so I tend to have more time. I haven’t seen Sungkyunkwan Scandal but I’ll check it out. I’ve seen 1st shop of coffee prince, my name is Kim Sam soon, chobits (anime), Hana Kimi and Hana Yori Dango (japanese and Korean versions). Man am I a geek.

    The things are so darn addicting especially since I can’t find Nigerian soap operas online.

    1. I know a few Nigerians who enjoy Korean dramas, I watch all sorts of dramas really not only limited to East Asia. They are now showing a Filipino drama on AIT and I enjoy good TV dramas from across Africa, like Jacob’s Cross (*hyperventilates* THAT IS A GOOD SERIES). Lol, it’s alright to be a geek, I am both a geek and a nerd, seriously and I love it.

  7. Okay, I saw Secret Garden and I think I gotta watch it again ’cause I forgot all about it, and I don’t get the hype. I love Hyun Bin, I do. That guy is some seriously good actor. And I do like Ha Ji Won, although sometimes she sounds like a baby. The drama was good but…anyway sha, I’ll see it again. I am really happy to know Nigerians enjoy kdramas. I’m trying to switch back to JDramas but kdramas are hella addicting.

    My current favorites are Tamra, the island. I’m rewatching that and I never rewatch dramas. Dr. Jin and I do, I do (with my favorite KIM SUN AH) and Big (with GONG YOO).

    see what these things do to me 🙂

    1. I don’t think I’ve seen Secret Garden…tbh I tend to stay away from all the hyped up dramas.

      Ha Ji Won is my unnir, she can do no wrong. There’s a group on facebook from Nigerians who enjoy Kdramas and stuff. Kdramas can get annoying sometimes and are too long. I watch a bit of both, Kdramas and Jdramas.

      1. Kim Sun Ah would have to be mine. I like Ha Ji Won, but she’s about to be replaced by this new lady called Han Groo (from Killer L). I just can’t stand it when she has those “cute-ish, baby-like” tendencies. It creeps me out. I like her bad-ass style though. Which ones would you recommend: Taiwanese, Japanese and Korean.

        1. I actually have no idea who Kim Sun Ah or Han Groo are. And I’m yet to come across a drama, video or clip of Ha Ji Won doing aegyo…for which I’m glad because I can’t stand it either.

          Do you mean which Taiwanese, Japanese and/or Korean dramas I would recommend? Or which one of the three I prefer? I like them for different reasons tbh. Japanese dramas tend to be more realistic in portraying Japanese society and are short which is pleasant. Korean dramas tend to be melodramatic and toooooo long. I haven’t watched Taiwanese dramas in a long time but I remember a lot of the ones I watched had “bad ass” female characters that needed to be tamed or made “lady like” in some way.

          1. Yeah I meant which dramas would you recommend. I have sorta neglected Nollywood, Taiwanese and Japanese dramas and I’m trying to get back into it.

            Han Groo is a newbie, she was in Killer K/Girl Killer and it was simply superb.

  8. Yes!! Nigerian Kpop lovers!!

    I am currently watching ‘각시탈’ (or Bridal Mask), and ‘A Gentleman’s Dignity’ with Jang Don Gun. The drama ‘Gentleman’s dignity’ was written by the screenwriter that wrote Secret Garden. It’s more mature and quite entertaining. I recently watched ‘Protect the Boss’ and loved it!! I found it very funny, and liked that it was hardly stereotypical.

    Let me know what other shows you’ve seen and any one’s you would recommend.

    It’s lovely to meet you guys here :). At the risk of being cheesy: Fighting! haha

    1. I am also watching Bridal Mask, actually I’ve been working hard not to keep watching it because I do not want it to end, it’s twisted right? The show is just amazingly good but I’m hearing reports behind the scenes of an extra dying and no compensation to the family and the lead characters not getting enough sleep (if any sleep at all). A Gentleman’s Dignity is also good, it’s mature but not as bold as I know it can be. The opening scenes were hilarious. and yes, Protect The Boss is just the best of them all.

      I really wish Naija television could get better or at least learn to put their products online, even if it’s for a nominal fee.

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