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KDrama Review: My Sister’s March

May 21, 2010

As an entertainment hoar, I like everything dramatized. I get the bulk of my news from The Daily Show and Colbert Report and one of my favorite “history” writers is Sarah Vowell who’s penned such titles as Assassination Vacation (about the assassination of 4 US presidents). Predictably, I like my history dramatized, especially when the story is told through a slice of everyday life. And My Sister’s March completely fits the bill.

The story of the young woman, Yang Mi, is told against the backdrop of the 3/15/60 Masan protest against the vice presidential election fraud, which became a catalyst for the April 19 movement, eventually leading to the resignation of then president Rhee Seung Man. The drama starts out with her voice, “I didn’t know much about the world back then…” and we’re given an insight into her world. One filled with serving at a local cafe to support her high school brother and living day to day for survival, without much thought or care about what’s going on around her.

She has two men in her life who frequent the cafe: Lee Han Su (Jung Chan), a leader of the opposing Democratic Party who is leading much of the protest efforts against the current government and Park Jong Pyo (Son Hyun Joo), one of the heads of the police department who is glad to fire against the student protesters without a blink of an eye. Even with these two men, she has little desire to get involved in anything political until her eyes are forced wide open by her brother’s captivity and by meeting the feisty mother (played by Oh Ji Hye with quiet ferocity) of a missing student, Kim Ju Yul.

And when she finally sees what’s happening around her, she can’t help but come out of her apathy. The story is told without fanfare and with a subdued resiliency, showing hope and bravery through the gradual transformation of a young and uneducated woman, reminding everyone that change is truly possible in a person and in a society, even through the meekest of things.

I didn’t shed much tears while watching the drama, but I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. Beyond the great acting, directing, and writing, My Sister’s March challenges me to look at my life and my community. It reminds me that there are times when I need to sacrifice my comforts for things of importance.

It’s pretty remarkable that such a story was told though the Masan MBC affiliate to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the protest, even as much of Korean entertainment is focused on the 60th anniversary of the Korean War. With the poignant and beautifully scripted drama, My Sister’s March rises to the top of my current 2010 list.

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