I was doing some freelancing work for eight months while waiting for an office work at the time, giving me ample of free time to watch TV at home. While I was flipping channels, there was a Korean drama on a local TV channel one early evening. I noticed that one of the actors used to play at Winter Sonata, a KDrama that I gave up watching a gazillion years ago, because it seemed to run to 300 episodes. The guy is cute and I ended up following the series, called On Air. I even bought the DVD to catch up what I missed. And then I found out the cute actor committed suicide a few months before I watched the series.
I also discovered that one of my cousins was crazy about Korean drama and collected a few series. From her I borrowed a series on a family struggle to keep a traditional restaurant and another cooking series called Pasta – both I enjoyed thoroughly.
I'm a chronic couch potato who binges on TV series and Korean drama is a good break from watching Hollywood series, which nowadays range from super depressing to super slapstick. And it’s not always KDrama too. I actually enjoy shuffling and alternating my series list. After a season of House of Cards or Game of Thrones, I'll slip a Korean Drama in, or the other way around.
1. It lasts no more than 16 episodes.
If it's really, really popular, they may extend it to 20-24 episodes. This excludes ones that would run forever like Winter Sonata and such. So I can expect to finish a series in one or two weeks or in one month max, if I alternate it with Hollywood series in between. Chinese or Taiwanese series tend to run longer, up to 40-50 episodes. Frankly my dear, I don’t have the patience.
2. Details, details, details.
If there's one thing Indonesian sinetron should learn, it's the consistency and detailing in Korean drama. On Air tells the dynamic revolving around a drama series production. I got to see how a director, actresses, managers and scriptwriters work. It goes into details on how the production meeting is held, on picking up location, processing the contract signing and other technical details. Jang Ok Jung is about a royal seamstress in Juseon dynasty, pretty much like Coco Chanel, who was married to the king. The storyline may seem cliché, but they are serious when it comes to fabric coloring techniques they're using.
3. Quirky themes.
It’s not always just girl-meets-boy. Sometimes it’s about a Girl Who Can See Smells. Or a guy who swapped his soul with a teenage boy after an accident, like in Big. Or a girl who can see ghosts that always haunt her, until she helps them finish their unsettled business in the world? Amidst the usual family feud, sibling rivalry or life tragedy, Korean drama tends to have its quirky sides and it's usually fun to watch.
4. Food craving.
Of course you'd crave for food, if you're watching Pasta, King Baker Kim Tak Gu, Let's Eat or Midnight Diner. But even in non-food-related series, there would be scenes of barbecues, of eating toppoki, drinking makoli wine or even cooking a ramyun that will make you drool for some. I think they figured out that they could infiltrate Korean culture such as food, songs, fashion through drama series.
5. The scary mother (in law).
Compared to other Asian countries, Korean mean mothers are the scariest ones, as can be seen in characters in Cinderella Stepsister, The Heirs and King Baker Kim Tak Gu. Their type can make Cersei Lannister or Merriam Belina cry in shame.
Really, you just have to watch it to experience it.
Read about Detski’s other favorite pastime: coloring.
Detski is a mid-30 single female, who has a committed relationship with eight-hour/day sleep. She is aspired to be Charlotte, rather than Carrie, of SATC.
Got an opinion on this issue? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below.