In February 2021, streaming giant Netflix announced that they would be investing half a billion dollars into Korean language content to outmaneuver other streaming services vying to cut into their market share. If the success of shows such as Squid Game and Crash Landing On You (the latter of which is rumored to be remade in English and to take place in Mexico or Canada) are any indication, this investment has already started to pay dividends.
Enter My Name, a limited Korean miniseries starring Han So Hee who plays Yoon Ji-woo, a young woman who joins a ruthless gang to avenge her father’s murder. At one point the show hit Netflix’s top 10 at the same time as the aforementioned Squid Game, giving Korean shows an unprecedented two entries to this list at the same time.
But My Name is not Squid Game in any way, shape, or form. If Squid Game is a social commentary on wealth inequality and the life-or-death disparities between the haves and the have-nots, then My Name is a fun and mindless tale of revenge. But that’s OK. My Name’s popularity shows that Korean content has the capability to extend beyond psychological thrillers or rom-coms, and who doesn’t love a good revenge story? This series is a good one for zoning out and unwinding after a long day’s work; this is a fun one to binge in your pajamas.
That’s not to say the dialogue is bankrupt or completely devoid of spiritual engagement. I was surprisingly struck by one scene in particular—a scene that prompted a mad scramble for a pen so that I could transcribe an illustration to be filed away for a later sermon. In this scene, Yoon Ji-woo is arguing with her partner, Pil-do, played by Ahn Bo-hyun, who tries to convince her to give up on her plans for revenge because it’s too dangerous. The threat of seeing all her efforts of revenge going down in flames causes Yoon to shout, ““I threw away my future and my name (for this). If I don’t (do this) then my life has no meaning. This is all my life is worth.”
Her partner Pil-do forcefully handcuffs himself to her, not allowing her to throw her life away. This scene caused me to scream “Gospel!” I was reminded of Mary Vanden Berg’s systematic theology class on the Holy Spirit, where John Calvin teaches us that the Holy Spirit binds us to the promises of Christ. If there is a greater example of common grace in secular media than this, I’ve yet to observe it. (Rated TV-MA for heavy violence and blood. Netflix)