Korean Cultural Relationships

May 1st, 2012


Han Yong’un a famous Korean poet wrote “The Silence of Love” in 1926. “The Silence of Love” represents a lost love that cannot be forgotten. Korean poetry uses no rhyme in their poems (Lee 46). However, their poetry is rich and tends to create more of a story in which love is involved. I used the poem to expand on what Han conveyed. “The Silence of Love” is the central piece for the Korean cultural analysis. In relation to “The Silence of Love” their is also a relationship with “Winter Sonata” a popular Korean drama, which has a character that is love silent. A song called “First Time” which also ties to the poem and the drama as well. All three become one cultural Korean visual.

The poem has spiritual and profane love that serves as an evocation of Korea (McCann 27).The poem “The silence of Love’s is about a girl who lost her love, and she cannot forget about him, leaving her silent of love. This girl cannot love anyone else but that past love, in the poem they” promised to meet again when they part”, but when, is unknown and she cannot move on, because of all the memories they shared together. As Han Yong’un mentioned “The loved one is not the beloved; it is also everything yearned for” (McCann 28). The girl is expressing in the poem that she wants to be with him, the memories just hold her back from moving forward. She does not want to move on or forget the past, which only makes it harder on her. The imagery used in the poem is strong and is why I used a scene from Winter Sonata, where the poem and scene reflect on each other, to what the poem is expressing. The last phrase of the poem “an untiring love-song envelops the silence of love” (354), represents that this “love-song” keeps repeating over and over in her mind with all those memories she cannot let go.

The author used a vivid imagery and a story to express the silent love syndrome the girl experiences in the poem. Han Yong’un is one of the first great poets of modern Korea to expound the actuality of colonial rule and sing of the reality to come (Lee 360). I included the poem in the beginning of the video and after the poem, a scene from Winter Sonata comes in to visually express “the love-silent” syndrome.

Winter Sonata is one of the most popular Korean dramas of all time. Winter Sonata was broadcasted in 2002. Winter Sonata also deals with a lost love at some point of the drama. A girl named Jeong Yoo-jin falls in love with Kang Joon-sang during high school. Joon-Sang is the new guy at school, smart and quiet, but then Yoo-jin and him start to get to know each other , they instantly fall for each other. Not long after they spent time together, little did they know that fait would separate them. After, Joon-sang is no longer in Yoo-jin’s life she feels dead inside and keeps living in the past. All the memories that she and Joon-sang shared are living in her heart and mind. Yoo-jin only wants to be loved and love, but all that is left are those hurtful memories that prevent her from moving forward.

Dramas in Korea are so popular to where viewers give themselves up temporarily to enjoy the feelings of love without regard for consequences or practical concerns (Iwabuchi 93). The scene that I used to represent the poem was when Yoo-jin is remembering bits and pieces of the times she and Joon-Sang shared together. The poem mentions, “I remember his poignant first kiss and its memory” (354). Which in the drama was their first kiss and she was remembering that special moment. Another scene she remember focuses on Joon-Sang’s face  and voice of him telling her “ Merry Christmas Yoo-jin” and in the poem it is described as “I hear not his sweet voice; I see not his fair looks” The girl in the poem and Yoo-jin have similar characteristics. They both feel heart broken and unable to let go of the precious moments.

Korean drama is popular among all age groups and situates women as the centre of the story. (Iwabuchi 93). Having a poem that speaks of love and a drama that one can see and feel the pain of Yoo-jin is a perfect interpretation of how the pain of love truly feels and causes to both of the girls in the stories. Dramas are considered one of most powerful mediums of proposing a framework for representing the world as a world with meaning and order (Iwabuchi 94). Just like all types of people read poetry, drama is also viewed in the same way, but is more helpful as a visual than a story that is written in just words. The emotions that the characters go through the drama are more intense and one puts themselves in their shoes. When I read the poem, I was upset, but when I saw the scene of Yoo-jin thinking all those time she spent with Joon-Sang, it made me cry.

Music has come to play a central role as a symbol of national identity in Korea (Howard). To complete the relationship between the poem and drama, music is another major factor that is highly popular in Korea. Music has affected the consumption of dramas (Armstrong 306). To tie Winter Sonata and “The Silence of Love”, a song called “First Time” played by Li jee Soo is added for the final touch to form the cultural Korean visual.

The song played in Winter Sonata- “First Time” is the song that kept repeating in Yoo-jin’s mind as she thinks about Joon-Sang. Same as the girl in the poem, all the precious memories are being played constantly in her mind.  In the drama, Yoo-jin has the Christmas present that Joon-Sang gave her, that she had not opened. She puts the cassette tape in the cassette player and as the song plays, all the memories are coming to her mind one by one. The song on the cassette was “First Time” a song she and Joon-Sang used to play together on the piano. However, this time he played it and recorded the song for her, it was their special song.

After listening to the song that Joon-Sang played for her, all Yoo-jin could do is cry, their was an emptiness inside her. The song “First Time” was a song they played together and just like the poem mentions that there is a melody being played in the girl’s mind as she remembers all those wonderful moments spent together with her past love. Yoo-jin as well relates to the poem, but her emotions towards the end of the video are sad and touching.

What I created was a Korean cultural trio that allows one to analyze how each different medium can connect as one. “The Silence of love” identified with Yoo-jin in the drama Winter Sonata, and the song “First Time” with the poem and Yoo-jin. Classical music may not have words, but just as Yoo-jin was remembering her past love, those memories were seen as the melody. In classical music one has the opportunity to cry and let out feelings that a song with words cannot do.

The main purpose for this visualization is to connect three popular mediums and analyze how they all are needed to function together. Poetry, Dramas, and classical music are very important and popular to the Korean culture. There are strong emotions about love in the three works. The visual created was to show that Koreans have strong connections with text, audio, and tv, which allows in this case to understand how they use these three mediums to have a strong cultural relationship.



Works Cited

Armstrong, K. Charles, Gilbert Rozman, Samuel S. Kim, and Stephen Kotkin. Korea A

The Center: Dynamics of Regionalism in Northeast Asia. New York: M.E Sharp,

Inc. 2006. Print

Howard, Keith. Perspectives on Korean Music, Volume 1. Burlington: Ashgate

Publishing Company. 2006. Print

Iwabuchi, Koichi. East Asian Pop Culture: Analyzing the Korean Wave. Hong Kong:

Hong Kong University Press. 2008. Print

Lee, H. Peter. A History of Korean Literature. New York: Cambridge University Press,

2003. Print

McCann, Richard, David. The Columbia Anthology of Modern Korean Poetry. New

York: Columbia University Press. 2004. Print