K-Drama

Food prep, dinner, dishes— whatever
my in-laws happen to be doing, they drop it

when their favorite Korean telenovela starts
on TV. They live in a two-floor brownstone shared

with cousins that arrived with them and settled
here in the heart of Immigrantville nearly four

decades ago. And, no matter what room they’re in,
they can hear the sweet pop strains of the series

theme and rush to pull up two chairs, wipe
their hands on apron or dish towel. Scallions

scatter green parentheses on the chopping block;
the faces of cubed potatoes cloud over from

neglect. Neither does it matter if they’ll be
five spoonfuls into dinner— more compelling

is the need to find out if the long-separated brothers
will finally recognize each other in “Triangle,”

or if in “One Well-raised Daughter,” the girl
could hope to inherit her parents’ soy

sauce factory without having to disguise
herself as a boy. Don’t the titles say it all:

“Yoo-na’s House,” “Make a Wish,” “Can We Love?”
Look closely and you’ll see how every space

is fraught with hope and tears and drama—
the couple glimpsed through the window

of the corner coffee shop are going through
a divorce, the teenager crying in the phone booth

has had her heart broken by the boy who doesn’t
even know she exists. From her great distraction,

the young housewife has sliced her thumb
instead of an onion, uncertain of how to tell

her husband and his mother of her recent miscarriage.
And inside the ordinary-looking house, down a screened

hallway leading to the servants’ quarters
and laundry room, the old housekeeper is secretly

taking a bowl of rice porridge to her employers’
teenage son whom they believe has gone missing,

though he was only terrified to show his face
after spending a night out at a party with friends.

Leave a Reply