Pensive Ponderings about Korean dramas


I was lying in bed one night, pondering about random issues and questions, when I suddenly thought to myself, Why do I continue to watch Korean dramas? Why do I love them so much? Why can’t I be more American and watch “American shows? Why is it that, despite my hectic schedule, I continue to make time for my dramas?

Whenever I meet new people, and I’m asked to share something “interesting” about myself, my reply is usually something along the lines of “I love Korean dramas!” Oftentimes, the person asking the question will get this funny look on their face that says, oh so you’re that kind of girl, eh? (Not that I know what the heck they’re thinking so I can only make a hypothetical guess.) And because I’m still mulling over this sudden and random train of thought, I’d like to ask y’all about your opinion about it first before sharing my own.

So yes, what are some reasons why you love Korean dramas and why would you continue to watch them for the rest of your life? Share your thoughts, please! Now!

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26 thoughts on “Pensive Ponderings about Korean dramas

  1. Ahahaha, this is so true. I keep wondering why I devote so many hours of my life, at detriment to my social and academic life, to these television shows from a country halfway around the world. I think it’s magic. Or the fact that in 16 episodes, they cram in fun, romance, action, character development, plot, and sometimes art, whereas most American shows can’t do that in 5 seasons. I tried going back to an American show once, and decided I couldn’t sit through 5 years of watching the same characters doing the same things. And the fact that kdramas have such a fun, supportive community of bloggers who love the same things I do. So this year I’m going to stuff a hard drive full of all my favorites and keep on adding, so that ten years from now I’ll still be able to sink into the magic 🙂 Although yes, I get the same weird looks when I share my favorite pastime, lol.

    • I’ve become more and more reluctant to share the fact that I watch Korean dramas, and I don’t like to divulge to others that I blog about it. Because the succeeding question is always, oh, what’s your blog name? And it’s just totally awkward if people in my real life find out that I’m a blogger; even weirder if they read my crap, too.

      I think Korean dramas does have pretty much anything viewers would look for in entertainment, and it’s certainly a plus that they have extraordinarily beautiful men and women starring in these shows. I guess that’s what makes them all the more popular, too.

  2. People in my workplace poke fun at me but I love watching my k-dramas. One reason I watch them is that I can get through them faster than an American dramas. Instant gratification if you will. In K-Dramas, with the exception of the dailies and 50 ep dramas, I can get the beginning, middle and end of a story in 2-3 months or if I marathon a drama and get no sleep (which I have done MANY times before) I can finish in a day. In comparison, I have been watching Grey’s Anatomy since it began (and still love it warts and all) and it took how many years for Derek and Meredith to get together. There have been many times I have screamed and cursed at the writers for getting them together and then breaking them up so many times. They got them together for good a couple seasons a go but it took YEARS. The timeframe becomes so much shorter with dramas. Also, there are certain drama tropes that keep me interested. Yes certain ones can somewhat repetitive (2nd lead female who always wants to break up the OTP, scary mother or mother in law, son/daughter who thought mother/father died but he/she is actually alive and well and lives in the same neighborhood as son/daughter etc etc), but it feeds me and my romantic and sometimes outlandish imagination of mine. The romantic gestures are more romantic; the tragedy more tragic. I feel like K-Dramas heighten everything and depending on the drama, can be quirky. There are some quirky comedy shows here in America, but you would never see something extremely wacky and if you did, it would be cancelled fairly soon. K-dramas are different from American shows and I like the difference. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, but I get some things from K-dramas that I can’t get from American shows and vice-versa.

    • Thanks so much for sharing, SweetiePie! Such a long comment too! *happy*

      I totally agree with you about how Korean dramas and American shows have their own strengths and weaknesses. I could never buy into the hype that was Glee or Gossip Girl, although I was on the House bandwagon for a few weeks. I often find that American shows (at least the ones I checked out), were quite shallow and barely scratched the surface of more meaningful thematic messages. Oftentimes, it felt like there was such an excessive amount of sexual plotlines and whatnot. It was like, who hooked up with who during one week, and the next it’ll be another couple gettin’ it on. Perhaps I’m over-generalizing American shows, but I truly love the fact that Korean dramas included a look at the intricate webs of relationships between human beings. I’m not saying that American shows don’t have that as well, but it was much easier for me to gravitate towards a certain character in a Korean drama than in an American one.

  3. I’ve been lurking around for about half a year now, but I thought I’d come out of hiding for this prompt.

    Korean dramas continue to be my guilty little secret. My friends’ exposure to Asian dramas began and ended with Bobby Lee on Mad TV, so they don’t really understand why in the world I’d prefer melodramatic, foreign soap operas to American shows. But I love watching Korean dramas for the stories they’re able to tell. I love the romcoms, the melos, and the badass action sequences. And I love that even if the current season of dramas doesn’t float my boat, it only takes a few months to cycle in the new offerings. Korean dramas (and Asian miniseries in general) tell a full story in one sitting, and I know going into a drama that I’m going to get a decent amount of closure by the time the final episode airs (barring all WTF endings).

    The American television that I still continue to follow are either reality competition shows or sitcoms. I watch my American TV out of love for the characters rather than for any sort of story development. But really, after watching seven seasons of Ted Mosby trying to find the future mother of his children, the premise is wearing kind of thin. With Korean dramas, I know that there’s a definite finish line, and even if I don’t like how the writers take me there, at least everything’s said and done. I don’t think my love of Asian dramas is just a phase, and I expect to be tuned into at least a few shows a year for a good, long time.

    • Hey halaure,

      Thanks so much for delurking and sharing your thoughts! I’m glad my late-night pensive ponderings prompted you to write something and join in on this interesting topic. So yay! I heartily welcome you to continue to join in on the fangirling, er, discussions on DBJ. Because you write so eloquently! 😀

      “And I love that even if the current season of dramas doesn’t float my boat, it only takes a few months to cycle in the new offerings.”

      EPIC WORD. Like you, I find great joy in being able to watch the story progress for a Kdrama. There’s something about seeing the journey of the characters and their gradual maturity, and being taken along for the entire ride that makes the whole Kdrama-watching all the more special.

      Question for you: What were some of the more recent dramas that you loved? Based on the last sentence in your comment, I’m assuming that you don’t watch everything that the Kdrama world has to offer.

  4. I know about “that look” too well. I used to gush about kdramas to almost anyone I spoke with for more than 5 minutes, but now I say “I like watching korean shows” and leave it at that unless the other person asks a follow up question. I just found out a person who goes to my church is half-Korean. I’m waiting for our next chat to spring my love for all things Korean on her 😉

    • Lol, I have an unfortunate habit of assuming anyone Korean watches Korean dramas. Most of my asian friends think I’m like their drama-addict moms, haha.

    • Oh the look! I started training a new assistant last week(she’s Taiwanese, Chinese and Korean) and in a lull I was visiting my normal websites when she saw me go to viki.com and check out the subbing status of Wild Romance. She was amazed that I watch Korean dramas and asked my why since she HATES them. She did say I would get along with her Mom though. 🙂

    • Something I realized ’cause I actually hang around a lot of Koreans too: I’m more “Korean” than they are! I can’t recall how many times people have said that to my face. While that’s a compliment, I wish I was more “Taiwanese,” since that’s where my ethnic roots lie.

    • @ diorama and SweetiePie54: Yeah, I can kinda see why people in the mom-age group (I guessing 40’s-50’s for most of us here) would like kdramas. Kdramas are a little old-school with having actual romance, feelings, character arcs, and a complete story….kinda like the Hollywood rom-coms in the 40s and 50s, but made into a mini-series. I tried to explain them to older friends and they’ll say it sounds cute, but would rather not read subtitles. It’s their loss 😦

  5. “I know about “that look” too well. I used to gush about kdramas to almost anyone I spoke with for more than 5 minutes, but now I say “I like watching korean shows” and leave it at that unless the other person asks a follow up question. ”

    This is exactly my experience.

    “Lol, I have an unfortunate habit of assuming anyone Korean watches Korean dramas.”

    Yep, that too! (When visit abroad for vacation that is)

    I have finally come to terms with the fact that this is an addiction I must bear in solitute in real life. Korean culture is practically unknown where I live (Istanbul) and none of my real life friends are interested in Korean dramas (but a lot of them watch Turkish dramas which are sort of famous in Middle East and eastern Europe. And they take ages to finish, continue at least for two years)

    • Oh cool, you live in Istanbul! I actually get a lot of readers from the Middle East region, so you’re definitely not the only one who’s a Korean drama fan over in that part of the world. Actually, if I may speak for all the bloggers online, I know that many of our readers come from not only the U.S, but your part of the world as well. It’s pretty awesome, if you ask me. 🙂

  6. I’ve also been trying to figure out why I’m so passionately in love with Korean drama. I just came into the fold a few months ago, so the honeymoon phase has yet to wear off–making me all the more insufferable to my friends and family. Every time I say a word starting with the letter “K” I swear I can see people flinch, because they just know what’s coming: “In Korea, they say ‘come here’ by waving their hand like this!” “Koreans eat kimchi at every meal!” “In Korea, they say ‘the nail that sticks out gets pounded down,’ not ‘the squeaky wheel gets the oil’!” I’ve also been cut off from requesting the local Korean restaurant when I go out with friends 😉

    I think the novelty of a totally new culture is one of Kdrama’s appeals for me, along with its almost complete absence of irony or snark. I’m the snarkiest girl in the world, but sometimes it’s just nice to watch genuine people experiencing genuine-ish emotions, instead of all the arms-length-coolness of American entertainment. Plus, romance for the sake of romance is a thriving genre on Korean television, unlike in America–our shows feature romance for the sake of laughs, or for the sake of padding the season by a few more episodes.

    The fact that there’s just so darn many Korean dramas out there has really sealed the deal for me. It’s like discovering a new writer that you totally love, only to realize he or she has already published 200 books that you can now have the fun of catching up on.

    Maybe someday I’ll get over this infatuation–but I don’t think that day is coming anytime soon.

    • Yay! Your’s still in the season of first love! I’m a 1.5 years into kdrama-watching and there is such a thing as drama fatigue. But, then a drama will come along to sweep you off your feet again. My new drama-beau is History of the Salary Man!

    • Hi Amanda! Thanks for sharing and writing so much! *happy* You’re the snarkiest girl in the world? Hmm… I think I’ll have to pit you against my friend Dahee Fanel then. 😛

      “The fact that there’s just so darn many Korean dramas out there has really sealed the deal for me. It’s like discovering a new writer that you totally love, only to realize he or she has already published 200 books that you can now have the fun of catching up on.”

      LOVED LOVED LOVEEEEEEEED WHAT YOU WROTE HERE. And it’s SO TRUE!

  7. Oh God, I just finished Tangled *loved it, btw* and the image of the post made me cover my mouth with the surprise, haha.
    I already did the exactly same questions over and over and my conclusion is that watching some dramas feels like reading a good book. Take TPM, Jejoongwon and CiTC, for examples, it’s like reading sagas with shades of pure poetry with strong and well written scenes, that actually feels real to me . Talking about feelings, some k-dramas touchs my heart in the deepest ways and unexpected that only one scene in Grey’s Anatomy made me feel the same (yeah, Denny Duquette, I’m looking at you). The short length also helps, ’cause it cuts a bunch of random makjangs and crap that soap operas with 923784234 episodes, like the ones that we have here, love to throw at the audience with a less critical view. Oh, and talking about the weird glares that people gives you, imagine what my Literature professor thought when I listed more than 30 korean actors and actresses that I consider daebak as examples of good acting, hahaha.

  8. Not all Korean dramas are good, but at least we’ve got a lot to choose from. I think what keeps me watching is because Korean dramas are so.. Korean. The good ones, especially, really help to introduce elements of the culture etc. I don’t think I can ever put it perfectly in words but one simple comparison would be – dramas in my country are like makjangs gone bad (with no real essence at all). The focus is simply on the actors/actresses and you’d be lucky to find some engaging scripts. But the good K-dramas are like the express passport into Korea itself – I think I know Kangnam/Apgujeong is for the rich and famous, while Hongdae is where you go for club/indie scene, all from the dramas.

    • Wow, yes the culture element is a great excuse to watch more Korean dramas! One of my friends is actually taking a Korean culture class and she’s required to watch a Korean movie every week and then write a paper about it. I’m considering doing that next year as well!

  9. *raises hand* Also a lurker who has decided to pop her head up for this post =) The people closest to me know I watch and love Asian dramas. I have two friends who were “into it” before but don’t watch anymore for one reason or another. From what I gather, people see it as a “phase” and “she’ll get over it”. I was once even called “Un-American” by my brother because I enjoy the Asian culture (that’s the word he used and thank God he lives very far way from me). I know that look that people give you. So here’s what I’ve learned from all of the negativity I receive just for enjoying and liking another culture (a very American, tho not exclusively, thing): I like what I like and everyone else who is against this can do and say what they want but I get JOY from my shows. Why do I watch them over American shows? Honestly, I like it’s 16 episodes (average) and there is an end. My husband asked me once why I don’t watch American soap operas. The reason, for myself, is this: OMG, do you know HOW LONG those have been going on without any real end (Passions not included)?! I get asked why I will watch the same story type “It’s the same thing all the time.” We get the couple falling in love, the evil mother-in-law, the third woman/man trying to break it all up, the chaebol, etc. It may have the same elements but what I enjoy is seeing how THIS character is going to handle it all. How will this person overcome/handle these situations? What will they say to something like “Here’s money, leave my son/daughter!”? I will continue to watch Asian dramas to find out the answer to “What will this person do/say?”. On a side note, I am learning Korean. “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.” ‒Frank Smith

  10. Hello again. So I didn’t have to sign up.Anyway I’m irish through and through. I haven’t a drop of asian blood in my body, although I do go a thai lady for a massage 🙂
    I’m not just a fan of korean dramas, but of asian cinema and tv dramas in general.
    But I got into dramas after watching The chaser and some other korean movies. I wanted to see if i liked their dramas as much as their movies. The first one I watched was autumn in my heart, which I actually stopped watching. I kind of lost interest in it, but did finish off later.
    The first one I finished was kingdom of the four winds, which I thought was excellent.
    I had read rave reviews of one called Jumong, which at the time I couldn’t find decent links for. I have since, but searching for it led me to winds.But i also wanted to check out dramas from other asian countries.
    here are the dramas I’ve completed with marks out of ten.
    NOTE. These are not all korean dramas
    autumn in my heart 7
    kingdom of the 4 winds 10
    49 days 8
    scent of a woman 8
    iris 8
    triangle 8
    bartender 6
    freeze 7
    the devil 7
    please marry me 8 (i really like these ensemble dramas)
    athena:godess of war 8
    7 days in life 8
    Itazura na Kiss 8
    a moment in peking 8
    mackarel run 8
    Ganbatte Ikimasshoi /give it all 8 (a lovely japanese drama about team spirit, and friendship)
    The queens classroom 8
    This is a beautifully written intelligent series which will make you think.
    sarp phusa 8/10
    My first thai lakorn to finish.
    it’s cheesy, compelling, heartbreaking.
    It’s definetly one to watch if you like a good cry.
    it has ghosts, mediation, possession, a story set in the past, and the present, and some comedy as well.
    secret garden.
    9/10
    Very funny, very touching.
    mop girl -Hmm, i forgot to grade it. it’s either a 7 or an 8
    funny japanese comedy crime drama.
    so that’s 19.
    Why do i like them.
    They have soul. As others have said, they as a rule.don’t go on for years. Which isn’t to say i
    haven’t watched dramas that went on for years. I loved The x files. You do get to rec.ognise the cliches, but the storylines for me anyhow are compelling. I have on occassions,stayed up to finish out a drama. Have I done with american dramas. I think i may have done it with 24, or at least 2 or 3 episodes in a row. But with some asian dramas, i have probably watched 6 or 7.
    Also when watching an episode of an asian drama, i’m not wondering how long until the next
    episode, or if i am, it’s because of curiosity, and not out of eagerness to get to. But I have
    the same attitude to asian movies. Pershaps I should say south east asian movies, and dramas. I’m leaving out Bollywood.
    I guess melodrama would be the word to describe these dramas. They appeal to the emotions. But they do it in a way that doesn’t make you feel manipulated. Okay, sort of giving away my age now. Years ago, i used to watch an american show called “The little house on the prarie”
    Then one day, I decided that i was fed up crying while watching this show. So I stopped watching. I wonder if I had discovered asian dramas after deciding not to watch any more prarie, would I have been a fan. I have a feeling I would have, because of the storylines

  11. what i’m trying to get through these days
    liar game season 1 (looks like an 8)
    The sandglass (looks like a 10)
    a fair few othes i have to finish off too.

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