Onara


Now and then I remember this song, (the Cantonese rendition of) the closing theme song from Korean period drama, ‘大長今’ which uses historical figure Jang geum as a basis. When I watched it with my parents in my early teens, I would try and sing along to the original Korean version, ‘Onara’.

I really loved this series, and unfortunately haven’t had the chance to watch it from start to finish again as it’s been difficult to find it fully in Cantonese. My parents who can read Chinese can watch the Mandarin versions with Chinese subtitles, alas no such luck with me. Although it was big in Asia, I’m not sure what kind of reception it got in the English-speaking world - admittedly I don’t know if fansubbing was that big back then either, but you could definitely come by fansubbed anime.

Rediscovering this song today and discovering the Karaoke video for the Cantonese version, I watched the Cantonese actress in her Korean garb flit about. I wondered about how Koreans look different from Chinese or Japanese people, as well as how or why some people can tell the differences. Some people can pinpoint certain features that define whether someone looks Korean or Japanese to them - for me personally I’ve always just known or didn’t ask and found out in due course.

P.S. ‘Chang Ryong’, the opening theme, is pretty boss too.