Friday, July 30, 2010

Ask a Korean! Wiki: Why do You Watch Korean Drama?

Dear Korean,

Here is a simple question. Why are Korean dramas so addicting?

K-drama Fan

Dear K-drama Fan,

Honestly, the Korean does not know. He absolutely LOATHES Korean dramas. Except for a few notable exceptions, the writings are terrible, the lines are unnatural, acting is awkward, everything is about hysterical yelling and the storylines defy belief. The Korean watched exactly three Korean drama series from start to finish in his life, and he hated himself for watching one of them. Give the Korean the DVD set of Six Feet Under, and leave him alone.

This is a particular pickle because many people become enamored of Korean culture through Korean dramas. And these people send such questions like "Why is Korean healthcare system so terrible? Seems like every Korean baby gets switched at birth." ARGH!

But the Korean's big belief is that people are not stupid. If they like something, they like it for a reason. So here is a Wiki question for all AAK! fans of Korean dramas -- why do you watch Korean dramas?

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at


  1. Hmm... while I haven't watched a Korean drama, I have watched my fair share of Taiwanese Dramas, which I'm sure run a similar way as Korean Dramas, and I can't explain why I find them so addicting! I think it's the fact that they are so unbelievable that makes them entertaining. Plus a lot of T-Dramas come from mangas, and people buy mangas like no tomorrow! So maybe there's a connection there?

  2. I'm not a huge fan, but I like watching dramas. I can only name a few, and mostly I just watch whatever happens to be on. I like to watch because it's a challenge to understand what's going on, but mostly I watch for the drama.

    The yelling, the crying, the scenes by the Han River and in the posh boardroom make it fun. In my case, though, I watch dramas because I'm interested in Korea. If I saw these in Canada with no other exposure to Korea, I wouldn't be that interested in Korea.

  3. I just watch it to study the Korean Language, at least for the listening skills.

  4. I found two Korean dramas I liked, one I loved. Others, well mostly I was unable to finish a single episode and one even made me question my reason for living. So there is a real variety there.

  5. I've written about this in one of my post during the heydays of my korean drama addiction. link here:

    For me, anytime anyone criticises korean dramas for being unrealistic,etc..i feel its an attack on feminine values..just like how so many men attack Sex and The Ci...i mean there are tons of 'dumb films' which target men with action sequences and little storyline, irrelevant sex scenes, sexualisation of women n nobody attacks there films, and lets not even get me started on porn films which are consumed overwhelmingly by men..its funny how the very men whom criticise korean dramas and other female oriented films as unrealistic do not then also criticise in the same light porn which has even worse(almost non-existing) plotlines, repetitive movements ( u can only do it in so many ways/positions)...korean dramas are far healthier than porn in any case...for me, korean dramas represent or represented a more pure, feminine, mass media which appealed to women and those of us whom wanted something else to watch besides the countless violent, heterosexual male-targeted sexualised imagery of women, testosterone-filled media options out there.

  6. I can't watch them... I don't know what's worse, dramas or (my country's) soup operas. (but... aren't they the same? @_@). I have the feeling that if I were Korean or have lived in Korea for a long time, I would dislike it even more... I've tried watching them because I wanted to have some contact with the spoken language and dramas are the easiest thing to find. But I couldn't bear with them @__@ I also tried films, but I'm too picky, whichever the country of origin is, so only some please me. It's sad that's so hard to find documentaries...
    Oh, moreover, wtf is with the soundtracks of dramas? I get irritated just by the opening...

  7. hcpen is on the right track: Korean dramas are female porn. Men want to see beautiful women and have sex with them. Women want to see successful men and be cared by them. Both are normal and healthy, but porn and K-drama take a step(or a million) too far beyond the scope of reality. Escaping reality is fine for the sake of entertainment, but soaking oneself in a fantasy world often leads the person to forget that you can't tip a pizza delivery girl with your penis nor can you convert a billionaire bad boy into a caring lover.

  8. I used to think Korean dramas were overly dramatic, but then I realized Korean people are overly dramatic. The fights I've had with my parents, the histrionics--it's sort of a relief to see it done so entertainingly on TV!
    Actually, the only drama I really watched and loved was Dae Jang Geum, which was also slightly hysterical, but with such delicious historical depictions of Korean food. I also felt like her struggle to obey her parents' dying wishes, but also follow her dreams, resonated for modern Koreans, as well as modern Turks, Filipinos, and everywhere else that show was a hit.
    One friend thinks that the reason there are so many plotlines involving mistaken identity (long-lost mother-child, brothers, etc.) is because the nation is still working through the trauma of the Korean War and having families ripped apart. You never know--that man MIGHT be your brother.

  9. I too used to watch k-dramas. (stairway to heaven, attic cat, etc...) But no longer do I have any urge to watch them.

    I think Korean-Americans watch these shows for a number of reasons. Two big ones I see is 1. the beautiful people 2. to feel more connected to their Korean heritage or culture.

    American TV has so much more variety and substance. Shameless plugs: breaking bad, nbc thursdays, almost all hbo tv

  10. I watch K-drama because its entertaining. Its got everything from puppy love to impossible relationship etc. What is there not to like on pure entertainment level.

  11. I think Calvin hit the nail over the head. Basically it's why kids read comics, and everything else entertaining is consumed. I personally have enjoyed watching many a drama from the cheesiest cheese, to Queen Seon Deok saeguk style. Korean Drama compared to the other asian drama I watch is always more dramatic, and I'd say better quality too. Too each their own I guess, what girl doesn't want to fall in love with a rich, good looking, sensitive, caring guy with some drama(read:love triangle) inbetween?

  12. I think they're mostly silly, but can be fun to watch when you just want something light. I think they have an addictive nature much like America soap operas -- you get drawn into these outrageous situations and the corny romance. Some of the dramatic ones can be pretty well done, though. I cried several times while watching Dae Jang Geum.

    I also watch them because I'm interested in Korea and the Korean language. I actually picked up a few basic phrases early on, just from hearing them repeated over and over again in dramas.

  13. Me and my dad also hate them :)

  14. I got sick of watching overly-dramatic American reality shows. I find that I can connect to Korean characters more than I can connect to Americans, although I am Hmong and not Korean. Through the Korean culture, I have learned (and still am learning) more about the Hmong culture. K-Dramas were just the stepping stones to my personal cultural understanding. The structure of the languages, traditions, and the cultures are all very similar and it makes me reflect back onto my roots. I really respect every aspect of the Korean culture because of it's richness.

  15. For all the criticisms of Korean dramas as being overly emotional or melodramatic, they are actually more original than many American dramas and movies.

    After all, Hollywood is starting to do remakes of Korean TV shows and movies (Sassy Girl, The Lake House, etc.) because they have run out of original ideas of their own.

  16. The ones written by Hong sisters are truth!

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  18. I think Chesteron's essay "A Defense of Penny Dreadfuls" provides a plausible defense against what seems to be aversion towards the low quality aspects of Korean dramas.

  19. But if indeed K-dramas are "porn for girls" (the Korean has seen Twilight series described this way as well,) what is the redeeming value? After all, porn is straightforward -- it involves naked ladies and sex. No matter what the variety is, at the core there are those two things. What is the core value of the K-dramas?

  20. What is the 'redeeming value' of porn for men? If there is none for porn, i don't see why there needs to be for korean dramas.

    Furthermore, the 'core values' of korean dramas are conservatism and confucian values (i think thats what attracted me to it in the first place, i remember back in 2001, the actor and actress seldom kissed on screen where you could see mouth to mouth, not to mention having or even implying any sex had occured between fact, they rarely touched each other, i saw dramas whereby the two lovers never even kissed for the entire drama right till the end! Extremely conservative even for Asian standards (re: Japan, HK, Taiwan,etc) back then! Also, its standard that it always involves one woman whom gets to choose two equally eligible men, however, usually of different 'types'. One will invariably be rich and wealthy and suave whilst the other will be the poorer, artistic kind.
    It'll always involve the men chasing her and being more eager than she is, despite her objections over some family pressures,etc. I liked seeing them cos it was nice to see a society which was still so 'pure' and 'stuck in the semi-1950s' as compared to other Asian cultures such as Chinese or Japanese or Southeast Asian whom are far less conservative in their dramas as compared to Korean ones.

  21. Porn does have redeeming value -- sexual gratification. Maybe the term "redeeming" value is misleading; the Korean only meant to use the word in a sense that it describes the reason why people watch it. (Namely, "redeeming" to the viewers.)

    But the Korean disagrees that the core values of k-drama is about conservatism and Confucian values. It is hard to picture that k-drama fans watch them to be entertained by two people not kissing.

    1. I watch because they are clean at least by American standards. I can watch with my 14 year old daughter and not worry that she will see or hear more than she needs to. I must disagree with your observation that it is "hard to picture that k-drama fans watch them to be entertained by two people not kissing." Who doesn't like to watch the tension build up until "The Kiss"??

    2. I would say that the reason many choose Korean dramas over other dramas is because they are conservative. The repetitive, and female oriented themes can be found in any drama, but not everyone wants to see or hear what is tawdry. My reasons for watching are that they are relatively clean, and help me to learn how Korean culture has changed, since I lived there, not to mention tweak my interest to research history.

  22. One of the "core values"--as saying 'redemptive' really IS a bit much--of K-dramas is the very idea that ordinary women have choices and that exercising choice doesn't inhibit happiness.

    A lot of the most popular recent dramas have been about cute (not beautiful) spunky, willful, women who made their own choices, stood up for themselves AND still got the hott guy in the end. HELLO! That's definitely make-believe (and not just in Asia)!

    Women who make their own way typically lose out in the dating department but these girls are following their dreams (Kim Samsoon, The Woman who Still Wants to Marry), standing up for themselves (Boys Before Flowers), or living outside the norm (Coffee Prince) and they live happily ever after.

    Just as men want to believe that every woman would have sex with them if they asked, (omg. laughing as i type that. HA!) women like to believe that they can live their lives their way and still 'have it all.'

    Personally, I like to think of K-dramas as restoring my faith in men.

    Even if those men don't actually exist. ;)

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  24. Purpose of life: survival and reproduction. Men are into reproduction and women are into survival.

    To reproduce successfully, you have sex with as many(yay) healthy(big boobs) females as possible. To survive successfully, you either become strong(women power!) or find a strong(rich) partner.

    Therefore, the universal element of K-drama is a powerful man loving a common girl.

    Not that hard, really.

  25. It is hard to picture that k-drama fans watch them to be entertained by two people not kissing.

    That's because you're a man. ;)

    Undercurrents of conservatism and Confucianism are what make K-dramas distinct. While some newer stuff is getting away from this, without it, K-dramas are generally a low-quality version of Western stuff with a Korean cast.

    Similarly, when Bollywood runs too far off course (away from conservatism, cultural distinctions) it usually turns out what I think of as 'Western Lite' instead of a distinctly Eastern product.

  26. Oh, I didn't answer your question. So the redeeming value for porn is that men get to reproduce in proxy. That of a K-drama is that women get to ensure survival in proxy.

  27. When I originally watched a couple Korean dramas, both in Korea and on local Los Angeles Korean television, I found them (and by that I mean the two that I managed to watch most of) to be everything you described. The ones that I watched seemed to have high parity with American soaps, which I have no appreciation for.

    However, I managed to force back my prejudice and watched a few more and then realized that while many popular Korean dramas follow a soapy formula, like television programs from any culture that produces them, this is not true of all such programs. While I could wish that I could erase the insanity of "Winter Sonata" from my mind, I made a point of purchasing "Alone in Love", a Korean television series that quickly made its way into one of my favorite TV programs of all time.

    There are a lot of hyperdramatic cliché ridden Korean dramas out there, but there are also lots of dramas that, like serialized fiction from any country and culture, just seek to tell good stories.

    As for the addictiveness of Korean dramas; all television serials, if written well, should make you want to watch the next episode. Whether it's a Korean drama like "Coffee Prince", an American thriller like "24" or a British sci-fi like "Dr. Who", the whole point is to engage you well enough, to draw characters (or situations) that keep you in rapt attention, so that you'll sit through the commercials and come back the next time it airs.

    In that sense, there's little that sets apart Korean dramas from its serialized counterparts from other cultures, except for proficiency in and proclivity towards melodramas (of varying degrees of soapiness).

  28. If sexual gratification is the 'redeeming value' for porn, then romantic gratification is the 'redeeming value' for k-dramas.

    Indeed, many other Asians watch korean dramas for its conservatism and confucianism (i know the real korea may be nothing like this but the society portrayed in them seems conservative). I know of many chinese ppl and housewives (like my mother) whom watch it precisely bcos of its conservatism...its like a throwback to the 1960s in Taiwan/HK..also, there are fans whom appreciate the lack of sexual themes in korean dramas and watch it precisely to see the unsexualised males and lack of sexual me...its something different from american or other dramas which are more sexualised. But of cos, recent yrs have seen korean dramas becoming more sexualised,etc too.

  29. Calvin, you nailed it. +10000 and though I'not a fan of dramas (kr,cn,tw,us,mx,movies,tv,real or any other type) I do enjoy watching some bunch of actors and actresses do some of the worst acting in their careers and have a laugh with them =D... guilty pleasure.

  30. This debate took an interesting direction. I don't think, this men-watch-porn, women-watch-dramas differentiation helps to reveal the truth. Indeed, this seems to be a stereotypical approach...

    As a woman, I can't do anything with K-dramas romantic, nor conservative, unsexual side. And I don't understand those women being satisfied with conservativism, in this case, because if something, that is oppressive for women. It's just sad, when the heroine can't grow up to her own sexuality, and those directors don't get it: that actually kissing in public, serves to demonstrate the relationship: this is a true confession to the world, means you are being together. Without this, just to talk about love someone does not need guts(!).

    So I just can't watch any dramas, or soap operas. If as a woman, soap operas has any value, I would say: those South American dresses are being so colorful, and you can study their makeup completely in the foreground, when they are staying there frozen sometimes even for 1 minute -.-;;;

  31. I can't handle Korean dramas. My parents sometimes watch and even just listening to the endless hysterical sobbing... Painful.

    I have a question. So I find Korean dramas completely, unspeakably awful. The acting, the directing, just... awful. But is it unfair of me to judge based on the dramas I've seen? How are Korean dramas regarded in Korea? Are they actually respected works of art or are they on the same level as soaps like All My Children and General Hospital in the U.S.?

  32. Well, Porn for men has to be straightforward because men only want sex.

    so if The same holds true for women and Korean drama's, then the point should be obviously in what women are looking for in a relationship, and the fact that men are telling us that it's fantasy and we need to get our heads back into reality is proof of the existence of substance in these drama's as being womens porn because it's IS a fantasy, like crazy nasty sex with women is porn for men... Does that make any sense at all?

    Hi run on sentence structure and complete disregard for grammar.

  33. I don't know if you've ever read Dramabeans (which deconstructs and recaps Korean dramas), but reading it might tell you that what motivates a lot of international viewers is standard stuff: it's more of an escape to watch (literally) unnaturally beautiful actors acting out blissful fantasies about life. And because most international viewers (or just active commentators) seem to be women, you can narrow this idea further: viewers really appreciate watching hot Korean men of various archetypes pursuing females that viewers can identify with (or at least long to identify with).
    As an Asian-American woman, moreover, I can say that it's nice seeing Asian men in roles that are traditionally assigned to Caucasians in English-based media. However, I think the attraction of Korean dramas goes further than that. Most Asian-produced media is pretty low-quality or (even more) insanely cheesy in comparison to what we're used to in the West, and Korean/Japanese dramas have visibly higher production values than their Taiwanese/Chinese/Southeast Asian counterparts; more importantly, they offer a form of emotional porn: extremely prolonged sexual tension combined with cliched storylines that glorify romance and safely play out fantasies like male pursuit and reforming the bad boy without the dingy or dangerous elements that accompany similar narratives in real life. In Korean dramas, it always turns out for the better (or is adorable) if a protagonist has digestive issues, and broken relationships unilaterally get pushed to the background by the appearance of a real Prince Charming or the intensely attractive/reformable spoiled heir. Korean dramas affirm the impossible idea that things turn out in a predictable and happy fashion for the main character/viewer, and provide this escape without shoving sexual promiscuity and immediate sexual gratification as necessary parts of this fantasy. Those aren’t deleted by any means, but they’re not the main focus of the show.
    That said, though, Kdramas can also have the effect of tangibly lowering your IQ as you watch, Zoolander-style. Pros and cons…

  34. By the way, I love your blog!

  35. The Korean is still not convinced that k-drama is female equivalent of porn. Much of k-drama's attraction (it seems to the Korean) lies in the narrative. Porn might have a narrative, but a very very short one.

    Let's flip the question: what is the male equivalent of k-dramas?

  36. Action flicks? But I guess K-dramas...if I think about my fiance.

  37. K-Dramas.. are fun to pick apart and analyze. I got into them because it felt different than what was on American TV at the time (nothing good; far too many medical/legal shows for my liking). Plus, they were SHORT. 14-20 episode miniseries that told an entertaining story, like a long and very drawn out movie but nothing like American shows that span across years and have multiple seasons. Not everyone watches kdramas for the arrogant lead males and strong headed, independent yet always poor lead females who get together, or for the weepy break-ups and reunions, or because of the Oh! So! Dramatic! screaming. I mean, not every kdrama is a rom-com, and women don't only enjoy rom-coms. I can get into a good horror one (I actually liked 혼. It wasn't amazing, and I wish they didn't shorten it) and more thriller-ish ones (남자이야기 is probably one of my favorite kdramas ever. It wasn't light or frivolous. It was intense and a smartly woven together story).

    People watch kdramas obsessively for the same reason they watch Lost or Glee or Psych or any show anywhere.

  38. Hmnnn, what would be the issue with the usual narratives presented in K-dramas? Poor hardworking woman marrying a decent rich guy? Sounds like a Cinderella story to me, and Cinderella is not at first glance a morally bankrupt narrative. If the aversion is mainly based on the low quality aspects, I would have to refer again to Chesterton's defense-- which if I read him correctly basically states that the aversion is based on a category error.

  39. Let's flip the question: what is the male equivalent of k-dramas? professional sports

    It's got theatrics, long-standing rivalries, characters who make unbelievable decisions (hello, ref!), and stars with bodies that fans can only dream of having.

    Also, to be fair to Korean television, we haven't really parsed exactly which K-dramas we're really talking about. The ones that come on during the day are more on par with American daytime soaps: slow, 'serious', older characters, purely domestic story lines.

    The "dramas" that come on at night have higher production values, better writing/actors and are more varied in story. I don't believe either IRIS or Chuno were targeted toward women but for lack of a better word, they're still called 'dramas'.

  40. T-hype, you inspired me to go seek out Iris. The entire first season of Iris is up on Hulu.

    After a viewing of the first ep, me likes the combination of Bourne Identity and 24 and maybe a little WB post adolescent romance thrown in for kicks. Gonna try to watch the entire season.

  41. If any of you are looking for a place to watch Korean dramas online, there's a site called that has a ton of them that you can watch legally (in the US only, I believe) and free with commercials. Most of the dramas I've seen are on there.

    I'm not affiliated in any way! Just a great site.

  42. Because Japanese dramas have sucked so bad lately. Kdramas became a permanent substitute.

  43. I like to watch only the first two or three episodes of K-Dramas. It's like this 2 or 3 episodes are normal, and are just introducing people. After that the story just gets convoluted and you had to have been watching in order to know what's going on.

  44. I started watching K-Dramas because I'm learning Korean, and I definitely need help with my listening skills.

    But let's be honest, a K-Drama plot is no worse than a US soap least the action moves doesn't take a year for two characters to kiss. And I kind of like the fact that they're more like a miniseries than full unending seasons like here in the States.

    I think they're great - especially since in the US much of our content is hyper-sexualized. Everyone has to show a real sex scene, everyone has to be extremely crude - anything to capture ratings. Not that I'm a prude (because I'm definitely not) but it's nice to see romantic relations and even vicious cat-fighting without taking it to it's lowest level - which happens far too often in our TV shows.

    Although, yes, I've watched a few K-Dramas and I'm already tired of being beat over the head with the old adage about how wealth=evil. But the casts are generally very beautiful, and it's a nice change of pace in my day!

  45. I'm new to K-drama, having just watched Boys Over Flowers and Personal Preference over the last couple weeks (on mysoju dot com--free, legal, and English subtitles).

    I loved both BOF and PP, partially because I think Lee Min Ho is not only exceptionally hot (!) but is also a truly excellent actor and I wanted to see more of him. As an aspiring screenwriter, what appealed to me most, though, was the pure storytelling. Yes, it's somewhat formulaic: boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. Family of one despises family of the other. Haves v have nots. But that kind of formula has been around since The Iliad, since Hamlet, since Cinderella. (There truly is nothing new under the sun.) It's appealing b/c it speaks to the human heart.

    These dramas to me are pure comforting entertainment, like a grown-up's fairy tale, but with subtle or not-so-subtle messages of morality, truth, hope, and love. This kind of escapist fantasy has always had a legitimate place in the human experience of storytelling.

    And from a storytelling perspective, the writers of these dramas know how to spin a good yarn. I found myself surprised, touched, and mesmerized by much of what I saw. (C'mon -- when Jan Di gets choked up singing to Jun Pyo at his birthday party -- that was really good!)

    The fact that the Korean shows have a pre-determined and finite number of episodes helps the writers, I'm sure, develop series-wide character arcs, plant set up/pay off situations, and plan solid beginnings, middles, and endings that are nearly impossible to find in American television drama, where the producers are always hoping for another season, and another, and another....

    I wish the powers that be behind a show like Twin Peaks, for example, had just decided: Ok, we're gonna do one season, 25 shows, and that's it. Then we would have been spared much of the second season and been left with a perfect television mega-series (as opposed to a mini-series).

    Also, I think the production value of K-drama(of BOF, for example) puts a lot of American television to shame. I can't even imagine the money and effort put into the epic location shots, set design, wardrobe, etc. Maybe some HBO dramas come close, but the cinematic quality of the shows I saw should automatically eliminate any comparison to American soap operas, which are completely static sound-stage productions.

    As far as the over-acting, since I am an English speaking American reading the subtitles of these dramas, it's kind of hard for me to judge. I mean, yeah, obviously some of the acting is way over the top, but I just suspend my disbelief and enjoy the ride. It helps being from another culture, because I can chock it up to cultural style differences. I try to do the same with my wide-eyed wonder at how feminine some of the men look and dress--I mean, some of the guys dress like Austin Scarlett from Project Runway! Honestly, they couldn't look gayer (not that there's anything wrong with that). At first I was shocked, as this is not my idea of "masculine," but I just went with it, and before long pretty much accepted it.

    Anyway, I just wanted to write in support of K-drama, based on my limited exposure to it. :)

  46. I think one of the reasons Korean dramas are successful is because they are original and good quality.

    They are original as in they tell stories (love, historical, comedy etc) in a different way. Kissing and the odd naked torso or two but no outright sex. The Confuscius culture of East Asia also permeates the dramas. Small everyday things which are common in everyday life but new to TV shows.

    They are also of good quality as in they have high production values. This is down to high level of investment by the govenment and plenty of competition.

    I am sure in a few decades, this genre may well become the incumbent and new alternatives may arise.

  47. lol And of course my first comment here had to be about... Dramas ^^

    Here my 2 cents :

    I'm a drama addict since one year and a half now.

    Everything started by curiosity and my first drama was like being hopped up on sugar lol Just like in middle school, I was craving for more sweets.

    So my FIRST take is : dramas work like a security blanket.They are short and you know what you sign for (romance, historic, thriller, etc.)

    At some point, I realized that some dramas/sweet weren't for my taste, sometimes I was even repelled by it. This is when I discovered that dramas didn't come from the same country. Basically, I can't stand the japanese one, while the taiwanese and mostly korean are my favorite.

    So believe it or not but it gave me some landmarks to distinguish these three kind of languages and therefore I experimented the fact that yes (of course) all asians don't look alike.

    Because koreans one were my favorite I started to look for more informations : movies, books, comics, concerts (traditional and modern), calligraphy and here I am in this blog.

    I do believe that with an open mind popculture is a great bridge to discover another country. Sure what is depicted in dramas are not to take for granted... Just like in a book or in a song (isn't that common sense ?). But it can touches you nonetheless and makes you want to know more about where it comes from, isn't it a good thing ?

    About the women's porn argument: it is true that the male body is basically more shown in dramas (hello, shower scene from nowhere ?) compared to let's say an us tv show. But you can't reduce dramas to that, like soccer it's not just about running after a ball nor classical dance is not just for the fun of wearing a "tutu". It's just a part of it.

    It's funny because a friend of mine just came back from Japan with a magazine lately. Just by watching the naked male model in the cover (and the other naked men inside) I directly deduced that it was a gay one. And I was wrong. It was a women's magazine. So I told him : that's funny how we can easily talk about equity in western cultures between men and women and yet (in France) no one would dare to publish such a magazine for women's audiences.

    IMO desire is way more subtle than men need porn, women need fairytales. I mean, I am woman and I can be turn on (or off) by explicit sexual pictures or by a smell or a curve, etc... And from my little experiment, the same goes for men (fortunatally).

    So to finish with this long first post :

    Mr The Korean, when I read your stand on dramas with the yelling, etc... It seems like you're talking about the makjang style, a mixed between latin soap opera and Dallas (koreans sure know how to push the limit a little bit further, don't they ? lol). There are other kind of dramas out there.
    You talked about Six Feet Under (which I enjoyed) so you might try one of this title :

    • Flowers for My Life – 꽃 찾으러 왔단다 (don't be afraid I swear lol)
    • Evasive Inquiry Agency – 얼렁뚱땅 흥신소
    • Conspiracy in the Court - 한성별곡 (it's just 8 episodes long)

    And sure, this goes for anyone curious to make their first steps in Dramaland. See you.


  48. I have recently become addicted to Korean Dramas thanks to In the past two months I believe I've completed about 10 series, losing sleep to watch that many hours. I work in television and I think one attractive bit for Americans is that the story line and culture is so different from American television. American television seems dry and predictable for me, but Korean dramas are made as well as American television (aside from some annoying music sequences, "Boys Before Flowers") and I can't predict the story like I can with American TV.

    Now, why it's addicting is a different question. Every episode ends in a cliff hanger. Because the show is unpredictable because of unfamiliar storytelling techniques, the payoff for watching the next episode is great whether it's the outcome you hoped for or not. The shows also last only one season. However, the series contains the same amount of action a US drama would have in say 3 or 4 seasons. The plot moves quickly and things like character development are secondary to the plot. There are sub-plots with other characters, but they are only told because of an eventual involvement with the main characters' plot. These characters are also not very well developed. It becomes a line from one character to another, "He's sad because his parents died when he was young and he never recovered." In American TV this would have taken several episodes to explain. However, by forgoing this, the dramas can take you on a roller-coaster of adversities to overcome.

    My only complaint is that it seems most K-Dramas seem to wrap up way too much material in the final episode. As for poor acting or dialog, it's hard to tell when you're reading captioning the whole time, especially when the captioning is translated into poorly constructed English sentences. I would think the Korean's biggest hangups on K-drama would not have an effect on the English speaking viewers who are ignorant of the Korean language and culture and simply attribute odd behavior or stagnant or extravagant actors to cultural differences.

  49. Why K-drama? Well, for decades, the standard in Asian drama has been the TVB stuff from Hong Kong - that's all well and good but it's getting a bit stale with the same actors/actresses and location (seriously, HK is quite small, right?)

    K-drama, while I'm not entertaining any delusion that it is something revolutionary, has a 'fresher' feel to it - nicer outdoor scenery, unfamiliar cast, familiar stories but with a slight twist plus some peripheral cultural differences that make it interesting.

    Of course, it doesn't hurt with savvy casting that pairs the current k-pop idols with dramas e.g. Micky Yoochun of DBSK/JYJ in SSK Scandal, Siwon and Donghae of Super Junior in Athena and Ok, Daddy's Daughter respectively - gotta keep those fans happy!

  50. So, I too wonder what the addiction is to K-dramas. I think it is the acting. You can read the emotion on the actor's face without saying a word. Also as a Filipino American, being torn between family loyalty and being your own person is something I can relate to. I also like the innocence of love. Sex is sex and you can get that anywhere and anytime. Just the excitement of holding someone's hand as an expression of love is really romantic. Also the conflict doesn't rise between people - but usually inside the character. Personally I think the acting is really good.

  51. I've seen some of these and it's not really my favorite. I watch them with my mother-in-law and we sit and laugh at the funnier scenes in some of them and of course the over acting that's in all of them. They all have the same formula so I can see how they can get boring but unlike the American ones at least they come to an end. They are definitely designed for women though because they are filled with fluffy romance. I really wonder what Korean men living in Korea like to watch aside from the news and sports.

  52. I watched K dramas coz there are always some characters which you can identify with. I also loved some of the advice that they dished out. For eg. in one particular drama, I learned that marriage is 3 weeks of honeymoon, 3 months of quarrelling and 30 years of tolerance.

  53. I for one find K-dramas refreshing. Yes the plots are predictable. Yes the writing of the last 5-10 episodes or so are so bad the little I babysit could write them better.
    But at least after 20 odd episodes they end
    US shows stretch on for 10 seasons, dragging the plot and the characters through the mud until they have squeezed every last drop out of them.
    They are also refreshing in the fact that they don't use a lot of CG or animation.

    I also enjoy the fact that there is continuous plot line. A lot of US dramas are comprised of medical dramas or crime dramas that have a different story line for each episode.
    I enjoy sitting down and being able to watch a plot unfold over the episodes (no matter how cheesy or stupid or unbelievable the plot lines are...)

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  55. Hmmm WOw! How to even start,Well my hispanic culture does not provides Dramas/(telenovelas) all the majority of dramas in hispanic channels the 1st chapter is happiness the other 99 is just evil plotting all the way , and the end is a rush in what you couldn't explain well throughout the drama and it is all happy ending .they hardly show teenager in a drama ,and when they do the teenager acts become too sensual and sexual and it just to the point that you go EEEEEWWWW.. We don't have dramas like" Goon","playful kiss", "boys over flower" or "She is handsome".(where is not that sensuality or sexual nudity to the extreme like some Brazilians dramas where some part of the drama have to be censured /(but I will say that aside from the sexuality Brazilians are the best in dramas)
    I like to watch Korean dramas that not only have the ability to entertain but to teach like" Jewel in the palace"...I like to watch something that I wont have to say to my sister "Oh cover your eyes or don't watch this "So so far so good the Korean drams that I have seen provides me the ability to seat as a family and laugh ,cry,learned and be entertain ...
    So that's why I watch Korean dramas.

  56. I watched korean dramas alot.... but after watching a few... ive come to realize its all the same. only 4 dramas i like outta ones i seen
    posidon, marry stayedd out all night coffee prince and Sangkyunkwan scandal. a drama i hate thats is to predicable is abd common is boys over flowers i never finished it. i couldnt. and i still didnt finish your beautifull. but i like it so far.

    As working in the korean entertainment buisness. i have come to know these dramas and others are very popular over seas. as well as in korea too. but mostly among girls. girls like these cause it shows of a almost perfect life that im sure 100% wouldnt really happen in their daily life. not every girl gets the guy of their dreams not ever girl has friends that look like models or have money ect. sometimes we have average looking friends and our life is just going to school hanging out with friends and thats it no thrill, like in korean dramas. some girls picture them self with the main character. ect. i honestly dont go looking for dramas unless i really really want to. or my friend forces me. i much perfer watching veriety shows reality shows. one of my funny current favorite show is 2days 1 night. i like that show, alot. and rather watch that then a drama anyday. sometimes i start watching a drama and then i get hooked for like a week then after that i stop watching it. back years ago. when iwas 14-16 i used to watch dramas like crazy, japanese chinese korean. you name it. now i dont so much. i guess it just depends on what the person likes to watch. i much perfer reality, cultural then anything else. but i sure do perfer korean shows over american shows any day.

  57. Every so often I watch Korean dramas. The first one I watched was Goong (Palace: Princess Hours). I try to watch Yoon Eun-Hye's stuff. I think she is an amazing actress. After watching Goong, I found that most dramas lead characters try to follow her acting style (but only she can do it naturally).

    I find very few K-Dramas to be worth my while and I watch them to learn Korean and somewhat of an insight on the "traditional" Korean culture and customs. I do like how the dramas are CLEAN. Meaning people aren't ripping each others clothes off like American tv. There is a courtship and the support of family--unity. I like those attributes.

    Most of the dramas, unfortunately, follow the same storeyline. WHY??? Poor/"unattractive" girl acts dumb and some winds up with some rich guy of some empire. It gets very old after a while. The dramas baffles me.

    As a result, I find myself investigating further about Korean culture. I start to ask questions on goolge. "What is the percentage that Koreans engage in plastic surgery?" "How old are they when the go under the knife?" "Why do they not like the original shapes of their eyes/nose?" "Why do Korean girls portrayed as airheads in dramas?" etc. I'm intrigued, but I am also sadden. They make it seem as though women have to be "saved" by a man to get to point B or she'll never be completely happy in life. I definitely have mixed feelings about the dramas.

    My concern is that girls are going to live in an unrealistic world. If they act dumb and bubbly with or without alcohol consumption that this Prince is going to rescue them and whisk them away to a land of expensive clothes, servants, etc. LOL!!

  58. Hi,I want to ask a question.Is there a music album of Real School(Korean series 2011)?I likes their songs.Please.


  59. I believe that the dramas raise the best almost nonexistent part of the men and the lost part of the women lol. The men are adorable and the women are not realistic lol. Even knowing it i am loyal to the dramas and that was the way for me to know korean people or at least koreawonderland lol.

  60. Hi 53 year old irish guy here.
    I came into korean dramas and later dramas from other asian countries through seeing Korean movies such as The Chaser.
    As someone else said, you feel a an emotional connection with the characters, which (and I'm sure there are exceptions) you don't get with the usual series showing on this side of the pond.
    Of course the more you watch, the more cliches you get to see. eg
    rich guy,poor girl
    two guys after the same girl
    But you will find many cliches in I suspect dramas from any country,
    for instance
    in american movies and or tv series
    Someone is need of clothes. He finds some on a washing line, that fit him perfectly.
    Characters answer a question indirectly
    "Is my dad dead"
    "He really loved you"

    Scenes cut off before they are finished.
    "Are you my father"
    The"Father" says nothing, at least for the two or three seconds before the scene ends. In the next we'll probably see the two characters fishing, while the father tells his son, what a heck of lady his mother was.

    I can like period dramas where the women are demure and find them extremly sexy even though they hardly show any skin. i can like them when the same ladies beat 10 guys using just a hairpin, and a compact mirror. Okay I made that one up, but you know what I mean.
    I can like the more agressive ladies who don't take no s%&t from nobody. No, it doesn;t matter whether it's period or modern. Although I guess it's more likely to be modern
    Lately I've been watching some drama series from scandavia. I think a major cliche from there will be that everything has a political angle.

  61. I started watching Korean dramas to learn about Korean culture. I have a Korean student that came to live with me to go to school here in the U.S.and I wanted to see what life was like in Korea. But, I became addicted! I have watched hundreds of dramas and wait impatiently for episodes. The Korean men are beautiful! I fell in love with, of course, Bae Yong Joon in Winter Sonata first. That was my first drama. I then looked for more of his movies. I found that I was looking at the attractive male actors and started to watch because of them. Hyun Bin, Jae Hee, all the pretty boys. Much cuter than American actors. My favorite Korean drama is probably "All In" because I love both the leads and the movie has everything you could ask for. I am still a romantic at heart and hopefully will always be. I have learned a lot from watching these dramas. My Korean student says that I am learning from them, and at least I am succeeding at my original goal with a little something extra. It's pure eye candy!

  62. I watch K Dramas for lots of reasons. I enjoy the culture very much, I do think the acting is great, and I enjoy the story lines. Though there are few, I do think there are a few shows men could enjoy as well. Iris and All In are awesome shows that even my brother could sit down and watch with me! I do think it somewhat creates a fantasy world for women though, I wish there could be an in between.

  63. Short answer: They're entertaining. They're good, mindless entertainment.

    Certainly more entertaining than the infinite number of cop shows on American TV (seriously...3 CSIs? I like cop shows, but it's still ridiculous)Or how about "Toddlers in Tiaras"? Dare I mention "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo"?

    I wonder how the Korean thinks about variety shows? I find "Running Man" to be highly entertaining.

  64. First off, it's kind of unfair to ask you why people watch Kdrama, like asking my ex-husband why Jews like Woody Alan, he can't stand the guy, as many Jews can't.
    That said, I love Kdrama. I have noticed that a lot of the newer ones are a bit better than the older ones. It actually might be better if you don't speak the language? I tend to go through one country at a time, watched a ton of Israeli movies, Lebanese, then Bollywood, Ireland, Japan...and so on, now on Korea. Started watching Kdramas when I was having some health issues and they just stuck. Actually, they sort helped heal me from two of the worst years of my life, so I have a special place in my heart for them. One of the things I like, is that they aren't really trying to be realistic, you understand from the get go to totally let go of your sense of reality. It's pretty rare to come to a new country and run into your lost half brother, die, and be able to give him your heart...or whatever. That's actually kind of Dickens-ish - the orphan is actually the lost grandchild of the rich guy. Some kdrmas are absolutely impossible for me to watch, but I wouldn't have watched some great Korean movies if I hadn't seen actors like Gong Hyo Jin, Jung Ryeo Won, Im Soo Jung and Hyun Bin in dramas first - which has lead to more Korean movies. I had no idea Korea was so prolific with movies and how good so many of them are.
    Now one other point, like kdramas or not, they are bringing Asians into American living rooms in a new way. Like watching drama's from Kenya, they aren't written worried about what white America will think. It's important for us to realize the world doesn't revolve around us as much as our American media would make it seem. And for some reason, Hollywood seems to think non-Asian Americans are sort of allergic to Asians in entertainment, unless they're making fun of being Asian. It was the same with Jews for a while. People were comfortable with men like Woody Alan, he fit the stereo type of a weak, whinny and castrated Jewish man - they were laughing at him, not with him.
    The Kdramas for people who might not like Kdramas would probably be - Painter in the Wind, Soul, Padam Padam, Fight, and for an absurd romp, History of a Saleryman and the latest The Masters Sun. And if you are in a relationship where the male is younger than the female, there are a ton of those types of dramas. Just be aware you might start wanting the latest Samsung phone or start buying chili paste, there's lots of product placement. Also not a great idea if your in AA.
    Korean, don't worry about answering the question of why do people watch Kdramas, there are plenty of us who can:)

  65. There are some adult kdrama like Queen of Housewives, and Yellow Boots not having Cinderella story. Playful Kiss and Boys over Flowers are for teens. Not all kdramas are the same.

  66. Korean dramas are pretty much all I watch now, with some Chinese, Japanese and Taiwanese dramas thrown in. I don't really watch English language television at all. I'm a feminist, and while the way women are portrayed in Asian dramas can be problematic, I can see those old tired tropes changing over time.

    I watch Korean dramas for the same reason that I mostly read fantasy novels. There are usually as many women characters as there are men characters, they get as much screen time and as much opportunity to talk and they get to have adventures too. Quite often in English language TV the female characters are mothers, children or side-kicks and then they get to be the prize. In Korean dramas, they get to be the prize for each other after working towards something together. this is fascinating to me as I almost never see this on western TV.

    As for the lack of sex, I've realised that when two people have been overcoming obstacles together and they finally kiss, that's way more of a turn on than the overt sexualisation of women and relationships in western TV. It's also not a turn off that the men in Korean dramas put as much effort into looking good (guyliner anyone?) for the women as the women do for the men.


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