Permission to Exist

The film Permission to Exist releases December of this year, into a pop culture climate where documentary films and miniseries are bingeably popular, but its journey to screen traces far back, to a time before Tiger King and the Fyre Festival. An independent, crowdsourced production directed by Kelley Katzenmeyer, this broad look at the human cost of South Korea’s intense education system has a personal touch and an empathetic eye, but loses narrative momentum in its hard balance of styles and subjects. Katzenmeyer introduces herself within the film early on as a Korean exchange student dating a boy named Dabin who’s under extreme pressure to rate a perfect score on the national exam and gain access to a prestigious university. Though she keeps the focus of the story on others, her presence is felt as a curious outsider making sense of a foreign concept for the rest of us. If you’re interested in Korean culture, Permission to Exist is a no-brainer, a definitive film document on the subject to stand alone should Netflix or Hulu one day replicate it, because of the director’s unique perspective. … More Permission to Exist

K-Drama Report: Man in the Kitchen (2017)

This writeup is destined to be a report card, something I’ll gladly refer back to once I’m more secure in my ability to assess Korean dramas — this is where it began. At the moment, I’ve had a spotty track record. The first drama I’ve watched to completion remains the only: Cheer Up!, which was my QNA pick for greatest entertainment experience of 2019. It’s a colorful, heartfelt melodrama that soars so high yet explores surprisingly wrenching emotional depths. Being used to the 13 or 24-episode counts of American TV shows, I was devastated to find Cheer Up! is 12 in total (and that was before I saw it ends in the middle). I’m currently watching Man in the Kitchen, and by episode three, a thought crossed my mind that draws the sharpest distinction between the two shows: “Okay, I understand why this is 50 episodes long.” It was not a good thought. … More K-Drama Report: Man in the Kitchen (2017)