The KBS Drama Special has been home to some of the most excellent and unique storytelling on Korean television. Basically short films on television, the KBS Drama Special usually touches on stories and concepts that may not be as mainstream as primetime or daily dramas. Or they may take on a familiar concept in fresh and different ways.
My Happy Home and Legendary Lackey are two recent examples of why KBS Drama Special is essential viewing.
And thankfully, both (like all KBS Drama Specials) are available on the KBS World YouTube Channel without restrictions:
First, My Happy Home tells the story of a genius scientist Yoon Sejeong (Son Yeo Eun) and her husband Sungmin (Lee Sang Yeob) who is a cyborg. They live a happy, structured life. But that seemingly perfect life starts to unravel when the truth about how their relationship all began is slowly revealed.
The drama begins almost uncomfortably as we see Sejeong basically programming Sungmin’s every move from the flowers he brings home to the compliments he gives her. But as we learn the truth (or various versions of it), the drama becomes an emotional roller coaster. And it all climaxes with a stunningly affecting finale.
Equal parts shocking and emotional, it is a thought provoking 75 minutes filled with ethical and philosophical questions about life, love and happiness.
The Legendary Lackey, meanwhile, takes a fresh and unexpected approach to the idea of bullying and high school life. Kang Chan (Lee Ji Hoon) transfers from Seoul to a new high school in Busan and he brings with him a reputation for being a tough fighter who apparently took on 17 guys and won. Current top dog of the food chain Jo Taeung (Seo Ji Hoon) decides to befriend Chan in an effort to maintain the existing hierarchy. But the arrival of Seo Jaewu (Kim Jin Wo) from Chan’s same high school threatens that current balance and especially Chan’s own position.
The drama has a few twists throughout the hour, some a little more predictable than the others. And you kind of get an inkling as to what’s happening early on. However, the way the hour develops using lightheartedness, dramatic confrontations and more quiet, serious moments all lead up to a completely satisfying ending.
While it may not be perfect and it missed several opportunities to maybe go deeper and more poignant, The Legendary Lackey nonetheless upends expectations about how a drama about high school life and bullying should be depicted. And it doesn’t in any way lessen the gravity or importance of an issue that Korea doesn’t seem all too comfortable discussing. There might even be a whole other aspect to this story that maybe could be touched upon if it weren’t on a broadcast network.
Ultimately, My Happy Home and The Legendary Lackey are but two of many examples of why the KBS Drama Special has been a home for some of the best genre-defying and boundary-pushing storytelling, not just on Korean television, but maybe on television anywhere.