The Silent Sea: K-scifi equals Squid Game

I thought The Silent Sea would be a formulaic drama about astronauts in danger on the Moon. There’s not much on the lunar surface, so it’s hard to imagine how anyone could come up with an original story that goes beyond oxygen shortages, aliens or interpersonal tensions. But how wrong I was! The Silent Sea is far from formulaic. It’s brilliant.

The Silent Sea is about a team of Korean astronauts sent to retrieve an object from an abandoned lunar research station. They’re given little information on why Balhae Station shut down and what the object might be. The story’s originality comes from the gradual unveiling of the mystery.

The Silent Sea also has a great cast. Bae Doona leads as Dr Song Ji-an. I didn’t like Dr Song at first; she seemed rather cold. But thanks to Bae Doona’s acting I learnt to see her as a person of empathy and feeling. I also enjoyed Kim Sun-young’s performance as the mission’s medical doctor, Gong Yoo as the team captain, and Kim Si-A as … Well, I can’t tell you about that role because spoilers.

Korean drama’s international popularity began some years ago. But, as we know, in 2021 it became all the rage thanks to Squid Game. Inevitably, when a new K-drama comes out a lot of people wonder where it sits on the squid scale. Is it better than Squid Game or just not as good?

Of course, comparing every Korean drama with Squid Game could get a bit silly. Like asking whether Doctor Who is better than Downton Abbey just because they’re both British. I guess we’ll soon get to a point where we stop seeing great Korean drama as great Korean drama, and see it as great drama instead.

We’re still in 2021, the year of Squid Game’s global success. So let’s ask the question one more time. Is The Silent Sea better than Squid Game? Mmmm. Well. Honestly, it’s very hard make a straight comparison between the two because they’re different genres. It makes more sense to compare Squid Game with The Hunger Games!

I absolutely love Squid Game but I do prefer The Silent Sea. It’s a story of silvery delicacy and finely expressed emotion; whereas Squid Game is loud and colourful. If you’ve seen both, and want to share your opinion, you’re welcome to leave a comment below.

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