‘Sky Castle’ A Korean Drama- A lesson Learnt

by Chandrika R Krishnan

Korean culture and Indian culture have a lot in common and one of them being the focus on academics and success of children. This satirical drama delineates quite effectively the materialistic desires of upper-class parents in South Korea and how they ruthlessly secure the successes of their families at the cost their own happiness or contentment.

Four housewives living in a lavish neighbourhood called SKY Castle engage in constant pursuit of one-upmanship as they  struggle to make their children, most of them studying in their senior school, stand out more than others in every possible way.  The husbands (three doctors and one professor)  are also having their own competition among themselves both professionally and brag-worthy children. The story begins with a party thrown by Han Seo Jin for a family whose son Young Jae happens to get admission into the prestigious Seoul Medical University.  She is focused on making her daughter too clear the examination.  She hires a private tutor who promises to help the daughter secure a seat in the medical college and also gives a set of instructions to the mother to follow to the T.

Tragedy strikes when Young Jae’s mother commits suicide and the broken family moves out. Later they hear that the apparently successful boy had accused his parents of pressure, dropped out of the course and threatened to distance himself from them.   Into that house moves another family who are more chilled out when it comes to education ( the boy is also in the senior school but is left to his own devices to study)  or personal aggrandizement ( the father too is a doctor)  is concerned. They are obviously happier too and considered ‘naive’ by those who are more focussed.

If you have one mother obsessed with her daughter’s success, we have a father in another family, who believes that his twin sons should work hard as only those on the top of the pyramid succeeds.  He is extremely proud of his daughter who is supposed to be studying at Harvard.  Wading into all these, is an illegitimate daughter who is a risk-taker, a private tutor who is determined to wreck havoc on rich families who are already obsessed with children’s success -a result of their own greed.

Splendid acting by easy-on-the-eye cast combined with undercurrents, fights, sabotage, bribe, murder et all, this series is worthy  of a binge-watch despite each episode being a tad long which makes it twenty hours of viewing.

There were a lot of tear-jerk moments particularly when one 50- year -old character tells his mother that he was never allowed to think for himself  being constantly pushed by his success-obsessed mother. He asks her if could love him for just being himself?  And when the most-effectively hateful -villain spouts, “Women with children are the most selfish people on earth and that also makes them easiest to control,” you can’t help but agree.  I also could not but feel sorry when the mother tells her daughter that she worked from the age of four to be the best, and forgot to sleep for more than five hours a day and also never went on a vacation but all at what cost?   The poignancy of constantly studying long hours or trying to compete with others in order to be the best was very well brought out.

The entire series works on the premise of wanting the best for themselves, their children and many times using their children for their own selfish greed in a society that worships material success  and  woe befalls those who dare to cross their path or try to call them out.

This is available on Netflix.





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