You may have seen recently that I’ve been watching oodles of Korean (and Chinese) Drama. This was actually completely by accident; a few weeks ago, I was writing my Top Ten Period Piece TV Show post, and as I was looking up top period pieces online to make sure I hadn’t forgotten any, I came across a show called Prince of Lan Ling, which was a Chinese Historical Romance. I was skeptical at first, because I had always sort of avoided Asian dramas in the past, but once I started watching, I couldn’t stop.
I should preface this list by saying I have frequently watched movies and TV in other languages. I watch a ton of Anime (in Japanese with subs), one of my favorite historical shows is in Spanish, and I own movies that are in French. Subtitles are not a new thing to me. So if you aren’t used to watching shows in other languages, you may not enjoy having to read subs. But if you can get used to it, I think you will be glad you tried.
Also, for reference, for the rest of this post, I will simply say K-drama, though I am including Chinese and Japanese drama in that category (even though I know they have different names)
- K-dramas are self-contained and conclusive. So here in America, we find a story or show that people watch and like week after week, and then we drag it out for years. And years. I can’t even count on one hand the amount of shows I have watched for more than about four or five seasons (of course there are some, I’m not bashing all American TV here. Still a big fan of many American shows). Plus, going for that long, the show usually loses what I loved about it in the first place, or relationships get SO screwed up that I want to stop watching. K-dramas usually run for one season (maybe two if it’s really ridiculously popular), have anywhere between 15-80 episodes, and they end conclusively. There’s not usually any “Oh we’ll just keep twisting this story line to get more episodes out of it”. Now, this does mean that some shows are over too soon, but at least, they kept the integrity of the show without degrading the plot line to squeeze more episodes out.
- Romance (not sex) is frequently an important part of the plot. One thing I have loved about watching these dramas is that Romance is so important, but it’s not necessarily about sex (like most American shows where sex is like, the scene everyone is waiting for. What does that tell you about our culture?). All of the K-dramas I have watched have been more respectful than that, and are about developing the actual relationship, not just lust. Now I’m sure there are K-dramas out there that are just as trashy as many US shows, but it’s so refreshing to see a “big moment” being a new level of emotional intimacy between characters, not just physical. It’s certainly more interesting. (for those who are wondering, yes there is plenty of kissing on these shows, just not sex – in the ones that I have seen. And if there is sex, you don’t see it in the way you do in the US).
- I find the cultural differences fascinating. If you’re like me, you’re deeply interested in other cultures. I’m learning everyday that I want to go visit so many places in the world. The obvious cultural differences in the historical shows are delightful, what with the beautiful costumes and architecture and the history. But even watching the modern shows and finding the differences is fascinating. And I think one of my favorites parts is that even though they are in a different part of the world with different customs and language and religion and history, we’re all still people struggling with many of the same difficulties. If you think you can’t relate to K-drama because you aren’t Asian, you are very wrong.
- I love listening to other languages. I have always loved languages, and actually, watching K-drama has made me return to working on my French. It has made me want to learn to speak Korean (I LOVE THE WAY THEY USE VOWEL SOUNDS TO COMMUNICATE THEIR EMOTIONS. IT’S ENTERTAINING) and to write in Chinese (Mandarin? whichever one is easier to learn 🙂 ) Listening to languages has always been interesting to me, and I love trying to pick out words that I recognize while I’m watching.
- There are so many types of shows to choose from. In the last month, I’ve watched an epic historical romance, a modern supernatural comedy, a historical paranormal romance, a contemporary romance, a contemporary melodrama…the list goes on. There are so many genres to fit any palette. And amazingly enough, I haven’t started any that I’ve been like “meh”. I’ve enjoyed every single one.
Do you love K-drama as well? What are your favorites? I’m new to the field so I’m just picking shows that sound interesting to me. Let me know what you recommend in the comments!