If you are a frequent viewer of Kdramas, you may have heard a character accuse another of “trying to cover the sky with your hand.” The idea is that the person thinks s/he merely placing the hand in front of their face makes the sun go away. It may…from that person’s point of view, but the reality is that the sun remains. In the K-dramas Golden Cross and A New Leaf, such delusion is linked with corruption, and everybody suffers.
In Golden Cross, the family of Kang Do Yoon (played by Kim Kang Woo) unwittingly gets caught up in a high-stakes game of national finance, corruption and revenge. While we feel immensely sorry for the ever-increasing tragic events that befall the family, we are also appalled at the lengths that Seo Dong Ha (played by Jung Bo Suk), the drama’s villain, goes to maintain his illusion. His ambition is fueled by his delusion, his attempt to cover the sky with his hand. On a personal level, he deludes himself into thinking he deserves a “world’s greatest dad” t-shirt when he tries to keep his nefarious and illegal deeds away from his prosecutor daughter. There are several times during the drama when it actually looks like he believes the lies he tells. As his violence escalates, so does his delusion: it’s ok to kidnap, threaten and attempt to kill people. Even when he’s caught red-handed, he tries to pull a Jedi mind trick in order to escape responsibility and blame.
On a public level, he deludes himself into thinking that his ambition serves the national interest. After Do Yoon exposes Dong Ha’s illegal bank activities and involvement in murder on national television, Dong Ha doesn’t miss a beat. He looks straight into that camera and makes himself the victim. What makes Jung Bo Suk’s performance so icky is that no matter what the evidence is before him, he’s sticking to his story!
Kim Suk Joo (played by Kim Myung Min) starts out the same way in A New Leaf, but as the title suggests, he changes. Before his unfortunate accident, you do not want to run into Suk Joo in the courtroom equivalent of a back alley. There is no buildup: Suk Joo is introduced as a cutthroat lawyer, and he likes being that way. He has no problem beating down on Korean workers exploited by the Japanese in the first episode! Everyone is afraid of his cool demeanor. He’s not one to be crossed. And while his work often puts him on the opposite side of honor and justice, he’s ok with that. He’s bending the law as far as it will go, and he has no problem breaking it too. It’s only after he loses his memory and comes to grips with his former life does he realize just how corrupt he was. He slowly sees that he was trying to cover the sky with his hand by acting like his actions did not have consequences. Unlike Dong Ha, Suk Joo tries to rectify his mistakes by taking cases where the weak are being trampled by the strong. This makes him a redeemable character, but it also shows him to be unique, as his firms continues its shady dealings as it makes inroads into government and business.
While these Kdramas have characters who either remain delusional and never see the error of their ways, or change their course after realizing their delusion, there are other characters who do not have the luxury of being delusional. Suk Joo’s father always thought his son was a schmuck, but my favorite is Do Yoon’s mother, Oh Geum Shil (played by Jung Ae Ri). Once she decides Dong Ha is the villain, she never lets up. While Do Yoon is initially taken in by Dong Ha’s scheme to frame his father, Geum Shil is “omma of the year” because she is never taken in.
Trying to Cover the Sky With Your Hand: Delusion and Corruption in Golden Cross and A New Leaf by CeeFu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.