The meaning of walk in K-dramas

This time, I will explain the significance of walk in different k-dramas (Encounter and The Lonely Shining Goblin) in order to demonstrate how detail-oriented some scriptwriters are and how literature has influenced the authors. Sure, not every walk in a k-drama has such a deep meaning, yet it is important not to believe that TV-series only serve to entertain and we should just watch without thinking.

In order to understand better the symbolism of walk, I would like to introduce to you a poem named “sensation” written by the French poet Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891) in 1870.
Here, you can listen to the original version, a French singer composed a melody for this poem. 


In the blue summer evenings, I will go along the paths, 
And walk over the short grass, as I am pricked by the wheat: 
Daydreaming I will feel the coolness on my feet.
I will let the wind bathe my bare head.
I will not speak, I will have no thoughts: 
But infinite love will mount in my soul; 
And I will go far, far off, like a gypsy, 
Through the country side-joyous as if I were with a woman. 

As you can see, in this poem, the narrator is enjoying his walk. All his senses are fully awakened (sight, touch, smell, hearing). Moreover, he feels the nature through his entire body as different parts are mentioned (head, feet) or implied (“blue for eyes, “pricked” for nose, “love/soul” for heart, “gypsy” for ear). All this indicates that he feels alive, he enjoys this moment to the fullest. As you can see, the walk is a metaphor for life that’s why we often read the following expression: their paths have already crossed. In this image, the path symbolizes a person’s life and walking means that this person lives. Striking is that in this poem nature (“wind”, “grass, “wheat”, “paths”) is compared to a woman. Nature can give joy and warmth. It is a source of inspiration too. Yet, the poem also implies that one could walk with someone else but since he is alone, then by paying attention to her/his surrounding so that this person won’t feel lonely. Nature can replace the company of a woman. But it is not necessary to walk alone. Striking is that the walk is also associated to love. To conclude, walking in love is the best which means life without love is no real life.

Now, if we look at the k-drama The Lonely Shining Goblin that aired in 2016-2017, we will notice the similarity between the poem of Rimbaud and the main protagonists. The main character, Kim Shin, has lived for 900 years as goblin. His immortality was a reward and a gift from God. Our hero resented God, his king and himself for his unfair death. He had dedicated his life for his king and country and at the end, he died as a traitor. Due to his past, he never really lived. Even after becoming a goblin, the viewer can sense that he is still not living. He is just enduring the time but not spending his time to do things he likes. He witnesses how his servants, all humans, are passing away and each time, he is hurt. He feels lonely. He doesn’t live to the fullest, not because he is afraid of death or god… it is just that he doesn’t know how to live. He is just waiting for his bride. Hence he has never loved anyone. His future wife is supposed to remove the sword and ends his immortality. So love and death are connected. Striking is that at the beginning, we don’t see Kim Shin walking at all. He can teleport by using doors or he just stands there. When he meets the heroine for the first time, he is standing in the street. Sure after meeting her, he starts changing but he is still very passive. He only walks, when he needs to save her from the thugs. In the picture below, he is already waiting for her. He still doesn’t walk, he just waits for her. However, the closer he gets to his bride, Eun Tak, the more he starts becoming active and walk.

episode 6

One episode later, the beholder witnesses how his position has really changed. Now he is leading her, holding her hand and we can see a smile on his face. As you can see, the change occurs because he starts loving Eun Tak. He is now living literally. So the walk reinforces this metaphor: Kim Shin lives his life, enjoys it to the fullest and is active. His love for Eun Tak has changed him.

episode 7

Now, let us analyze the walks in Encounter. First, our heroine Cha Soo Hyun is seen walking for the first time, when she is determined to watch the sunset in Morro Cabana. But since she is under the influence of sleeping pills, we could say that she is like a sleepwalker. She is not even really living, she doesn’t even feel that her shoes are uncomfortable, until she feels some pain in her foot. However, she doesn’t stop, she keeps walking to the top of the hill. After her awakening, she starts changing. She walks more freely with KJH during their first evening together. Later, she is shown walking but she is so slow. Notice that KJH arrived later than her, yet he was outside taking pictures before she joined him. In Sokcho, we barely see her taking a long walk. First, they sit on the bench, then they use the car and later, they just play on the beach. Yet, under the influence of KJH, CSH is forced to walk, see the episode 5, where he is supposed her paintings in his district. The real first walk happens in the episode 6. And this time, CSH is taking the initiative as she is the one who proposes to go for a walk. Her desire to walk corresponds to her desire to live and enjoy life.

episode 6

Her “love” for KJH was the trigger for her to change her life in South Korea. Sure, the sunset had changed her mind, yet once she experienced a setback (the ramyeon scandal), she thought that she should cut ties with KJH. the latter never gave up on her and he succeeded. As you can see, both characters, Cha Soo Hyun and Kim Shin, have something in common. The moment they meet their loved ones and decide to open their heart, they start living and walking. Walk, love and life are so intertwined together. This explains why the couples walk more and more as time passes on.

episode 7

Later after the break up between Cha Soo Hyun and her boyfriend in the episode 15, we see the following scenes. We see how KJH is wandering in the streets and Cha Soo Hyun is standing on a bridge.

This scene is really painful and emotional.

Actually, in this scene, this is not a stroll at all. First, she used her car indicating a regression. Secondly, she is just standing, as if she was frozen. Besides, when I used the word “walk”, I had “stroll” in my mind. Kim Jin Huyk is moving in an aimless way, he looks so lost. He doesn’t really pay attention to his surrounding. So their “walk” reflect the way they are feeling and living: he feels lost and lifeless and she is like petrified, she can’t move due to the coldness of the night and the bridge. The bridge is full of metal creating a sensation of coldness. She is no longer a Sleeping beauty but a statue made of ice. Besides, this impression is reinforced as there is no plant, no people on that bridge, only cars passing by. Notice that the moon is not shown at all, although it is night. CSH, as the moon, can not shine as she is without her sun.  

As for the bridge, it symbolizes that CSH is about to leave KJH’s life and world. However, we never see her crossing the bridge entirely. Since a bridge connects two sides together, it embodies the link between two worlds. In the goblin, it connected humans and god, life and death, past and present. Don’t forget that on that bridge, our reaper met his past love and Eun Tak’s mother met the goddess. Here, CSH just puts some distance between herself and KJH. She can not bear to watch KJH in pain. The bridge is an illustration for distance and leaving KJH’s side/world but like I mentioned it before, we don’t see her reaching the other side as she stops and looks at the lights and buildings lost in her thoughts, too hurt by the pain.

Now, if we compare the two couples, then we will notice that the way they walk together reflects their position in the relationship. Since CSH and KJH are walking side by side, they are equal. In the Goblin, since he is much older than Eun Tak (she is just 19 years old), he is the one leading. He has indeed the upper hand in the relationship as he is still hiding things from Eun Tak, the real meaning of his bride: ending his immortality.

That’s why in the future by watching a k-drama, pay attention to the walk if one of the main characters is described as passive and quite restraining himself/herself. The walk could be a clue for a possible change, especially if it happens with the person he or she loves.

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