Recently, and quite serendipitously, I fell into the rabbit hole of fan-generated derivative works of K-dramas, including what’s called 연성, dispersed across YouTube, Twitter, Postype, Pushoong, and Peing. I am no stranger (read: 고인물) to fandom culture in Korea, but it looks like I have missed some interesting and sophisticated developments of late while being busy with 현생.
At this point, if the term ‘fanfic’ comes to your mind first, let me tell you — that term does not adequately capture the dedication, ingenuity, and multimodal skillsets of participants in the fandom space. No doubt that creating a new fictional universe from scratch is a Herculean task, but here what they do, which is extremely challenging in its own right, is to create a new universe while drawing on, and being loyal to, elements of the universes that others have already created, so that fellow fans can recognise shared referents. I guess the process is comparable to playing jazz variations.
I find such works in the form of micro novels on Twitter to be particularly fascinating, as I witness how creators turn the platform’s technical constraints to their advantage. Now I truly understand why scrolling is likened to pulling a slot machine.
Of course, not every thread is equally “delicious” (in the insider lingo). A bit hit-and-miss, I must add, and some were indeed way off the mark that I didn’t have enough 항마력 to read through. In any case though, I personally loved the prolific energy; everyone wants to create more content, everyone is hungry for more ideas and prompts, and, above all, everyone is willing to take the narratives into their own hands.
Besides, there was something else about the space that struck me familiar. There is an old Friends episode where Phoebe talks about how her mother would protect her from the sad endings of movies or TV shows when she was small. Not to that extent, but I do have a similar childhood memory. On occasions, after I watched or read something that ended ambiguously, my mum would come up with some ‘epilogues’ suggesting a happier ending. It looks like I was in fact introduced to the concept of 상플 very early on!