A Little Perseverance, a Long Distance

Teen Shows: Why?


Everyone knows about the drama-filled genre of teen shows. Although many people do enjoy watching all of the drama happen in these fictional characters’ lives, the premise of early teenagers with wild lives making morally questionable and illegal decisions in high school can be difficult to relate to for a lot of people. Riverdale, for example, follows young teenagers in high school investigating town murders, homicides and bizarre drama between the characters. Shows of this genre also typically spiral and continue adding confusing, insane plot points, making it hard for the watcher to truly connect with the show. Additionally, these shows usually lack a meaningful message and generally do not have any genuinely likable characters we can empathize with. The mass popularity of dramatic teen shows, however, causes them to overshadow a lot of other types of shows of various genres with lovable characters and messages that watchers can personally connect with, such as Korean dramas

Korean dramas are often carefully paced and developed, with meaningful characters, plot twists, complex backstories, and entertaining character dynamics all included, bringing the world to life for the watcher, helping their messages resonate so much deeper with anyone who’s watching. One Korean drama, in particular, inspired me a lot with its meaningful messages and has been my favorite ever since I first started watching Korean dramas: Start-Up. 


Start-Up emphasizes a meaningful theme of persevering through hardships to achieve our goals by following the journeys of a group of strong, determined entrepreneurs striving to create their own startup businesses and continue working hard to overcome all of the obstacles that come along with it. Seo Dal-Mi, the main character of the show, for example, struggles with poverty and struggles to earn a permanent job since she wasn’t able to get a college degree because of her money troubles; however, she does not give up and remains determined to achieve her goal: creating a successful start-up. Through Seo Dal-Mi’s admirable persistence and effort, alongside all of the other dependable characters in the show, Start-Up solidifies its central theme of the importance of determination to achieve your dreams and aspirations while expressing the importance of effort regardless of your situation.


The film, Scavengers, for example, includes themes of determination similar to   Start-Up. The image shows the beginning of Scavengers, where one of the explorers adds another tally mark to the wall to show the watchers how much time has passed. Then, the film follows the explorers while they collect a long series of samples from the wildlife before they finally reach their goal: a glowing blue orb. The film shows how much time the explorers dedicated to chasing after their goal before finally reaching it, which conveys to us, as watchers, the importance of persistence when achieving a goal.

Spirited Away

The message of determination and perseverance also appears in famously known films around the world, such as the Japanese film: Spirited Away. Chihiro, a young girl thrown into a world of mythological creatures and witches, is told that she must take a job at a bathhouse in the magical world no matter what if she wishes to save her parents, who have been turned into pigs. The owner of the bathhouse, Yubaba, does not want to give Chihiro the job and even threatens Chihiro, saying, “I’ll give you the most difficult job I’ve got and work you until you breathe your very last breath.” Even after hearing this, Chihiro refuses to let go of her goal of saving her parents and persists until she is given the job. Without Chihiro’s determination and perseverance, she would have never been able to save her parents, expressing the important theme of determination, similarly found in Start-Up.

“How can I succeed in this world?”

– Josh Spencer, “The Last Bookstore

A wide range of people, regardless of where they are in life, could benefit from this message of perseverance. Start-Up’s portrayal of this message, in particular, had me emotionally invested right from the start. Start-Up does an amazing job of including complex, relatable characters and plots to connect us to the world built on the screen, getting us invested in all of the characters, their struggles, and their successes. All of this really helped its overall message of perseverance resonate with me even long after I finished watching it. 

Now, why would we need a message, like perseverance, from a show, to personally connect with us? Well, we all need some inspiration in our lives and a push forward to pursue our dreams no matter what they are and Korean dramas like Start-Up are a great way to emphasize important life lessons. We can draw the inspiration, motivation, and perseverance needed to chase after our hopes and dreams from the meaningful shows we watch in a way that is just so personal and impactful.

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