Guest Post: K-Drama 101

8:00 AM

(You can read her other post "K-Pop 101" here.)

Why hello there, my lovely little random friends. Tis I, the illustrious Ely who visited this blog many moons ago to educate you all about the wonders of kpop. Why, you might ask, is this strange and rather idiotic person back? Well, apparently Skylar liked my guest post skillz (or lack thereof), and she suggested I do a follow up post.
On what? (says you) Haven't we covered everything we can cover about boys wearing eyeliner and absurd amounts of hair-dye?
Ladies and zentlemen, let me introduce you to the joy known to man as...kdramas.
My father calls them Korean soaps. I call them delicious time-wasting morsels. Wikipedia calls them "televised dramas in the Korean language, made in South Korea, mostly in a miniseries format, with distinctive features that set it apart from regular Western television series or soap operas."
Wikipedia, you suck. Pack your bags and leave.
Basically, an average kdrama plot goes like this: dirt poor mid-twenties woman who probably lives on a roof apartment and somehow ends up homeless by at LEAST episode six runs around her daily life, working jobs she hates and dreaming of a better life, when she randomly runs into a chaebol (read here--korean richie) or at least mildly wealthy dude who somehow ends up in an awkward situation with her, thinks she's the help, or tells her that he would never fall in love with her (seriously dude. you're setting yourself up at this point. it's a kdrama. it's inevitable). In a nutshell, they hate each others guts and say so every other minute (despite making "kiss me" eyes at each other, also every other second). They get all the awkwardness over and part ways. However, they cannot stop thinking about each other. For the life of them, they cannot understand it. "Am I sick?" they ask themselves. "Do I need to see a doctor? Am I going insane?" (Skylar: The accuracy of this entire beautiful paragraph is perfection.)
Yes. You are lovesick, and no one but those as naive as you didn't see that coming.
After the dramatic meeting and hating of each other, they meet each other again, and it's just as awkward the second time around (only there's less "kiss me" eyes and more "date me" eyes.) They are forced together in such a way that they can't avoid their fate of falling in love with each other, endless wrist grabs, 

and very adorable babies. Unfortunately, one or the other of the two has a secret that they absolutely cannot tell their love interest, and of course the other one finds out. An ahjumma will be angered, and there will be potential water-tossing in a dramatic scene. 

There might be political intrigue (or if you're watching City Hunter, political intrigue and Lee Min Ho, which is a pretty win-win situation if I do say so myself). Someone might get amnesia, and another person will probably be murdered/cheated on/get pregnant.  However, in the end, they all find themselves in a happy place with aforementioned adorable babies and making "marry me" eyes at each other.  Yay for happy fluffy endings.


Kdrama tropes have been pretty sparse lately. More and more shows are original and don't have the predicitibility veterans know and semi-love. This is a wonderful thing. Yeah, nothing's perfect, but a lot of the shows coming out these days are not cookie cutter. Not that I don't love Secret Garden, but trust me--Marriage, Not Dating is like a fresh cup of lemonade on a summer day with Han Groo making silly faces at me while I drink.
Yeah. I live in a strange world.
And so, I'd like to share with you my endless knowledge of all things korean drama (seriously...I have a PhD when it comes to kdramas. When you're chronically ill, you don't have anything else to do. Ask me how I taught myself Korean.) Without further ado, here are my recommended shows for a beginner kdrama lover.
*in no particular order*

1. Let's Eat
Let's Eat is about single food lovin' people living in Korea. Now, you may not know this, but in Korea, it's frowned upon to eat by yourself. #1 reason why me as an introvert would probably not survive in Korea. This show will make you salivate, so I recommend eating during/before/after/all of the above when watching it. Food, why you so delicious? Also, Doojoon from B2ST plays the main male lead, and he is by far my favourite idol actor. It's fluffy and cute and the ending made me all sorts of happy. The sequel? Not so much.

2. Reply 1997 (Answer Me 1997)
Seo In Guk and Jung Eun Ji all the way, baby!! This was one of the first more modern shows I ever watched, and I love it a lot. The acting is superb, the plot is spectacular (high schoolers grow up and apart, struggling with miscommunications and secrets, all the while you as the watcher know they end up back together--but who's with who?), and who wouldn't love the ridiculous goat sound effect. 

Trust me on this one. It's a winner. There is also a follow-up show, and unlike Let's 2, it doesn't suck. Yay!!!!

3. You're Beautiful
(Skylar: This was my first kdrama!!)

BE WARNED: drama tropes GALORE. This is an oldie but a goodie. After Secret Garden, this was the first kdrama I ever watched. It set me on a path of Heartstrings, Love Rain, Mary Stayed Out All Night...basically anything that had Jang Geun Seuk in it (yes, I know Heartstrings has the other two leads in it, but whatevs. They're frickin' adorbs so shhh.) Seriously. The man kills it. And baby Park Shin Hye is priceless and cringeworthy at the same time. And HongKi. *melts into a puddle* Basically, before I turn into a fangirling mess, this is an idol drama (meaning, pretty much all the stars are idol actors), and it's about a girl who has to pose as her twin brother for a while. Sounds simple, right? Well, problem is, her brother's in a band, and she's a nun.

*happy dance* A concentrated happy dance.
Also, I laughed for like a million years when I found out Jang Geun Seuk was in a drama called Pretty Man. DIED.

4. Personal Taste
Also an older show, but it's a little more on the different side. There's this dude (coincidentally played by Lee Min Ho, but that has nothing to do this show being good, nothing at all....) who really really wants to get inside this house (he's an architect, if I remember correctly.) Problem is, pretty much no one's allowed in. That is, until he finds out that the girl who lives there while her father's away  is looking for a roomie. Fantastic, he thinks, and gets all ready to move in with her when...he finds out she thinks he is gay. This leads to a whole bunch of hijinks, and romance ensues. I love this show because Korean people have not appreciated/addressed homosexuality in their media in the past, and it touches on this difficult issue in their culture. Now, it's cheesy and awkward and has its own issues, but it also has its own merits, and I give kudos to the authors. And kudos to the casting crew because Lee Min Ho.

5. Flower Boy Next Door
Fluffy, adorable, social anxiety, Park Shin Hye...what else can you ask for? This is a cutesy short drama (at least...I remember going through it quickly...) that you will almost instantly fall in love with--mostly because of how much you can relate to the characters. If you have struggled with social anxiety, you know how "the woman" feels (seriously...she's a writer, and that's how she refers to herself). 

She's basically a hermit, and she only ever goes out when absolutely necessary. And she has a crush on the guy whose apartment is across from hers...and she totally stalks him. Until dude's brother shows up and forces her out of her shell and into the real, scary world. VERY good drama, and it's lovely to see Park Shin Hye develop as an actor before she screws everything up in Heirs (thought I will admit she redeemed herself with Pinocchio.) I can't remember the actor who plays the main male lead, but he is a laugh. 4D as heck.

6. Healer
Okay, says you, we've had cute, how about some action? I can do even better--action and cute. Healer sounds like a medical show, but it's not--it's about a night courier, a man who does jobs on the down low and is a total boss. He has these super glasses that I'm super jealous of, and I'd also really love a hacker ahjumma, if you don't mind. I was a little weirded out at first, because it reminded me so much of City Hunter (and then I found out the girl from City Hunter also plays the main lead of Healer...and was even more weirded out), but I grew to love Healer in it's own merit. The plot is like puzzle pieces fitting together, and I love love all the characters and their individual personalities and stories, and even the political side wasn't too boring for me. Now, if you ask me to choose me between City Hunter and Healer...I might blow up (seriously. If you haven't caught on to me mentioning it like every other sentence, you should watch City Hunter. It's awesome. And it has Lee Min Ho in it.)

7. You Who Came From the Stars
(AKA My Love From Another Star)
An alien in Korea who is approaching his earthly expiration date falls in love with a snobbish and very spazzy actress, completely by accident. Yeah. Don't be scared off by the weirdness--this show is all cutes and hugs and laughs and it had me on my seat waiting for the next episode when it came out. Oh, it's all cute except for the serial killer. He's cute--but also pretty creepy. This show was all the rage, and there was going to be an American remake (and I also laughed for like a million years at that) but I think it got cancelled. There are some things you just can't translate.

8. King of High School Savvy
I'm actually watching this show right now. Seo In Guk has been a favourite actor since Reply 1997, and he was what brought me to this drama. Came for the adorbs, stayed for the originality. Of course, we have the "stand in" trope--Seo In Guk's character, a high school hockey player, has to pretend to be his business man older brother while he is AWOL. And then he accidentally falls in love with his secretary. That's not very out of the ordinary, but the way the show flows is beautiful to watch. I really can't wait to see how it ends. *crosses fingers for a happy ending*

9. Modern Farmer
Oh. My. Gosh. Do not watch this show first. Or do. Whatever you want. But this kdrama is as crazy and off the wall as can be. Lee Hongki, who has a voice from heaven and an adorable face to match, is a singer trying to get famous--though he'd actually just settle for a label to call his own. 

However, money is a little tight, and he makes just enough mistakes to get on the wrong side of the law. He ends up in the country-side, on the land his grandmother left him, and it becomes his goal to make money...being a modern farmer. And the story isn't just about Hongki's character. It's got storylines about his bandmates, his friends, the other farmers...I just can't get enough of it. And you will too, once you hear Lee Hongki sing. Just be prepared for insanity, hijinks, and a terrifying and hilarious beard at the end of the show.

10. Secret Garden
This show is precious to me, because it was the first show I ever watched, and plus Ha Ji Won and Hyun Bin are forever OTP. It was made in 2010, so it's a little on the cheesy side, with crazy track suits, dramatic wrist grabs, and communication issues. The plot drags on toward the end, but the ending is so precious that you can't but help forgive the dragginess. And the tropes. Oh the tropes. Oh--also, they magically switch bodies. Don't ask. It works. And it's hilarious. My sister and I watch this show when we're bored and need something mindlessly hilarious to watch. It's kinda like a comfort food.

And there you have it! If you're interested in hearing more about kdramas (or even more about kpop), you can check out my  blog or email me @ emptycornerofmymind[at]gmail[dot]com, and I'm sure Skylar would LOVE to share her favorites and such. Let us know if you watch one of these and enjoy it!
Peace out, y'all!

So, basically, yes to everything Ely wrote (and you obviously read some of my comments in bold within the post). Not only is she an expert in Korean-related stuffs, but she also talks about writing and everyday life on her blog. So, make sure to check it out! Also, you definitely need to get in touch with me if you want some k-drama recommendations. :)) If everybody is interested, I might even do a part-two-type post about k-dramas with my favorites. Let me know in the comments!

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  1. Ok, this post is GOLD. *applause* up until this point I'd heard people rave about k-dramas and k-pop but was like UM NO THANK YOU, this post had intrigued me a LITTLE (which is a lot to be honest). However, the problem is, DO I HAVE THE TIME? All the people I know who watch k-dramas are obsessed, I'M SCARED I WILL ALSO FALL DOWN THE K-DRAMA HOLE AND NEVER RETURN - and I don't have the time.
    AH. decisions. WHAT DO I DO.

    Hawwa (Hawwa, Etc)

    1. yay for intriguing people! my work here on this earth is done! ;D As for wondering about the time...I'm in school and I don't have a lot of time while being slightly obsessed with kdramas. I'm not watching a season a day (or even a season a week) but it's a nice wind down after a long day. I'd say give it a shot and pace yourself and you can probably do it. Unless you end up being like "MUST WATCH ALL THE THINGS" and then, my friend, good luck to thee. You're going to need it. ;)


    2. I'm gonna pop in really quick to totally agree with Ely. Even though I love some K-dramas I've never been obsessed to the point of not being able to stop watching (Korean reality shows on the other hand....). You don't wanna miss out ;) So, maybe do a test run on a weekend!

  2. omg thank you for this post. My experiences with Kdrama has been pretty limited to LMH-starrers (no wonder I'm getting bored by his plastic perfectness :P). I actually needed good recommendations and mainly lived off my friends' - and a few have been huge turn-offs. And it's MIND BAFFLING (to me at least) how a person who hates no-brainers like me kept coming back to Kdrama EACH TIME.
    Seriously. Inexplicable.
    (Reflection: Maybe it's the quirky characters though. They're all as crazy as I am.)
    Just yesterday, I tweeted my frustration at how my ship didn't work out - School 2015: Who Are You. I mean, it's like the scriptwriter PURPOSELY sunk it because else there wouldn't have been a plot-twist.
    (I have no idea how I managed to steer this comment into another creative outlet to vent out).

    Here's a link to proof I used to be an insufferable LMH fan but Pre-FAITH:

    (P.S.: Faith remains the ONLY K-Drama that I have seen TWICE.)

    1. I'll let Ely know you commented so she can reply to you too but I'm gonna go first ;) I'm glad she could help you with recommendations! She's one of my main sources. I am not ashamed that I use her for such things. Oh my gosh, I know. Some of those kdramas I cannot handle AT ALL. I tried Sweden Laundry. Couldn't handle it. You know the stereotypical Korean tomboy?? Yeah it was painful.

      (Vent away my friend. Such things are welcome here ;) )

      I will read your link sometime this weekend (I hope). It sounds like a cool post :))

      (Gosh I have to keep watching that. I was really liking it!)


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