For most people, K-Dramas offer a form of escapism and allow them to enter a world of romance, friendship, and happy endings. Recently, it seems like there’s been a move away from this genre, and K-Dramas are now focusing on showing the harsh reality of life and talking about topics that are much darker.
A recent series that has gained attention for its approach to sensitive topics and the harsh realities of life is Tomorrow.
The series stars Kim Hee Seon, SF9‘s Rowoon, Lee Soo Hyuk, and Yun Ji On, who are all grim reapers. After a brush with death which leaves him in a coma, Choi Jun Woong (Rowoon) joins the team of grim reapers to help persuade those who want to commit suicide.
Although the character of Jun Woong sometimes seems playful, from the very beginning, the show looks at the hardships suffered by normal people in society. Jun Woong is bright and talented, but his inability to move forward with a career that is approved by society creates a sense of emptiness.
Yet, more importantly, the series follows the issue of suicide in Korea. The suicide rates in the country were the highest in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). Still, despite this, it is still a taboo topic within the traditional society.
Within Tomorrow, the show looks at the motives behind those people who want to commit suicide. Each time the Reapers help a character, their stories and reasons why are never invalidated, whether it was because of a bullying trauma dating back to high school…
Suffering from a financial burden and being unable to support the ones you love…
Or feeling as if it is impossible to succeed in life despite trying so hard, each character in the show was given a story and showcased the harsh realities and expectations in Korean society.
In particular, the two leading grim reapers, played by Kim Hee Seon and Lee Soo Hyuk share their own thoughts on the issue of suicide.
At first, as head of the escort team whose main priority is to escort the dead to the next stage in their life, Lee Soo Hyuk’s character initially seems confused by the reasons why people would commit suicide. Yet, the King of Heaven, played by Kim Hae Sook, showed that it was about understanding the person’s conditions before judging them.
Yet, through the first episodes, netizens see growth within the characters and their attitudes towards suicide. They explain that although the pain in life is inevitable, there can always be another way, and sometimes it’s about people hearing that final cry for help.
In a country where suicide is a continuing issue that needs to be tackled, it aims to be open and vocal about the issue. Rather than showcasing it as a weakness, it provides context and allows netizens a look into the reasons behind someone’s thoughts.
You can read more about times that K-Dramas have focused on the harsh realities of Korean society below.