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04 9월, 2007

The Allure of K drama

So here is a rationalisation for why I watch Korean TV. Primarily it is because they don't do seasons which thrills me to no end (you have no idea). All they have are a standard 16, maybe 18, episodes which air twice each week, so in 2 months it's all over. There are some shows like Jumong which ran 80 episodes, but that was a rarity, as it was an in depth historical drama and that was a great production undertaking in itself. Dramas take the best qualities of TV and movie which combined gives us the character development and depth of TV, and the finality of a film. This, is sheer bliss: I don't have to wait till next season to see what happens next (House), I won't lose interest (Desperate Housewives) and I won't come to loathe the show with a passion when the next season rolls around (Grey's Anatomy). Secondly they are overwhelmingly in the romantic comedy vein, which suits me just fine. Thirdly, they don't really subscribe to the more-skin-less-clothing school of thought. While it can seem a little too chaste I enjoy TV that doesn't feel the need to exploit. Which brings me to my fourth and last point: the dramas remind me of home. For some odd reason, Korean culture connects with me on a visceral level, but that is for another post.

The typical K dramas share a lot of common elements: ditsy yet lovable, but often poor female leads; strong, capable, rich, aloof male ones (if its a comedy) and; will most definitely have a love triangle/quadrangle. There will be a sexpot female 2nd lead or there will be an ex-girlfriend/lover who is stunning but will never get the guy. Someone, somewhere, will be plotting something nefarious, and, quite often the female lead is older than the male one. Most annoyingly though, somebody, usually (AGAIN!!) female, will most likely have some hidden terminal illness, or will die of a broken heart. Or someone will lose their damn minds, me along with them.

Oh and I forgot to mention. The dudes are unbelievably hot. Caliente. From K dramas I discovered some serious eye candy, namely Bi, Kim Sung Soo, Dennis O, Lee Jung Jae, and Gong Yoo being the cream of the crop. Yeah, I'm shallow like that, so sue me.

Now, most dramas I wouldn't touch with a barge pole because really, how often can you watch the terminally ill ex-girlfriend, die of heartbreak, but not before she wreaks havoc between the two leads? Unfortunately as a newbie i didn't know the difference and was sucked into watching a lot that was highly recommended, forgetting that the audience consists predominantly of giggly 15 to 19 year olds who think it's touching to watch someone suffer and die, fist clutched to chest, over love. Unh hunh.

So anyways, I watched dramas like Goong and Goong S, Delightful Girl Choong Hyang, Full House, 1% of Anything and my favourites, Coffee Prince and Air City. Those are the ones I actually completed. I started countless others but could not bear to finish them because, quite frankly, the got so melodramatic, so rip-your-hair-out weepy, so full of angst that I nearly ripped the screen off my notebook in sheer frustration. They start off lighthearted, witty and amusing, and the good dramas get you invested in the characters and rooting for whatever side you pick but by about episode 8, you honestly just want commit fictional mass murder. A couple of them such as Green Rose and Time Between Dog and Wolf are revenge dramas and so you would think sidestep those pitfalls, but then you remember that any thrilling revenge plot always needs: a thwarted love story to make us connect with the angst more keenly. Air City was near perfect though, which was basically a 16 episode advertisement for Incheon International Airport, Seoul, with all its high tech gadgetry (yay!), good investigative drama (I seem to be in the minority with that thought) and some good writing. Then they killed it with the, yup you guessed it, terminally ill ex-girlfriend (boo!). Coffee Prince was the pinnacle for me, and I'll stop there because I've already gone on ad nauseum in a prior post.

For a fascinating, overwrought, and utterly hilarious summary, go to Youtube and do a search for "Bobby Lee Korean dramas", a Mad TV series of skits. Even with no Korean @ all it's pretty funny, and with my limited knowledge (it is really hard to teach yourself a language), I cracked up @ the Korean that i did understand and the extremely, baaaad translation. Enjoy part 1 of 4.

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