KDrama and Me

Once upon a time, early 2020 to be exact (remember that debacle?), the world was treated to a global phenomenon which would become known as COVID19. It began with news reports about places other than the one in which I lived, grew to be the only news report to be found, and suddenly it impacted my own life.

No, I did not contract COVID. I followed all the guidelines, got my shots on time, wore masks everywhere except in my car (because that’s just crazy), and joined the rest of the world in the social experiment called “quarantine”.

I discovered things like Instacart, social distancing, and AMAZON. Ah, yes, Amazon could almost be called my guilty pleasure, were it not for the fact that nearly everybody seems to have those ubiquitous trucks with the odd smile logo pulling up to their homes on an almost daily basis.

Having conquered the main issues involving quarantine, I found that it was actually quite good for my writing career. I work from home, of course, and having nowhere to go and no one to do it with, a whole day of writing opportunity stretched in front of me. Yay.

But writing is work, people, and a whole day of it takes its toll. I could increase my TBR list of books, load them into my kindle or order them in paper form, but even reading reaches its daily limit, I found.

So, where does a quarantine-ee go? Television, of course. And I found quite quickly that most of the things on television are boring. I mean, you can only binge-watch Seinfeld so many times.

My computer proved helpful, in that I discovered there was more on it than my latest manuscript. News magazines, sports that you didn’t have to watch, music…and YouTube—the Amazon of visual entertainment.

There is simply nothing you can’t find on YouTube, even if you’d rather not find it. I found tutorials on knitting, photography, DIY anything, travel…I repeat, if you can’t find it on YouTube, your computer is probably broken.

One day, sitting in my pajamas far longer into the day than I care to admit, something new popped up on YouTube. It was a scene from a show, featuring a bunch of people dressed in period costumes from some dynasty I knew next to nothing about, running around doing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sorts of things and dancing about with swords.

There was also a plot. So I watched it, then watched the next scene, and the next, and the next…

This little miracle was called Korean Drama, or kdrama for those of us in the know. I looked up the name of the little bits I was watching, and found that there are streaming services that carry these dramas, sometimes simultaneously to their airing in Korea.

I was hooked. I watched one drama after another, and learned about Seoul, and Jeju Island, and Busan. My history-loving soul discovered eras called Silla, Goryeo, Joseon, and the time of the Japanese occupation. I also studied Korean so I wouldn’t have to rely on sub-titles. 안녕하세요!

And I learned about tropes and clichés, like these:

Everyone in South Korea has amnesia, sometimes more than once in a drama.

If you live in Seoul, you will at some point be hit by a white truck or car…often leading to amnesia.

Everyone eats copious amounts of food, and shoves it all at once into their mouths. Especially the girls.

Everyone is drunk, a lot of the time.

When the female lead (who is usually poor) gets drunk, the male lead (who is usually rich) gives her a piggy-back ride.

There is always at least one back hug, one pinky-swear, and more than one wrist grab in the drama.

There is a thing called second-lead syndrome, in which the female lead is courted by two gorgeous men at the same time, and the sweet, generous second lead always loses out to the cold, obnoxious male lead. It’s called “kdrama logic”.

Of course, not every drama has all these tropes, and those in recent years often have none of them, but even when they do they’re fun, sometimes emotional, and often compelling. The plots are rich and the emotion real and relatable. There is humor even in the darkest thriller, artfully presented.

You are not guaranteed a happy ending. If sad endings haunt you, as they do me, be careful. I’ve been known to check ahead and skip a show if it has a tragic ending. Read my books—you’ll understand.

Each drama usually lasts one season, 16 to 20 episodes, and tells a story from beginning to end—with NO commercials! Doesn’t get much more awesome than that, does it?

Oh…here’s another reason for my guilty pleasure:

This guy…

And this one.

Him.

Oh, and him.

Sorry, I forgot—there are women in these dramas too, but who cares?

If anyone is willing to take the risk of becoming addicted, and believe me, it’s real, you can find great kdramas on Netflix, and Viki – https://www.viki.com/, and even on Disney+. And if you become well and truly smitten, you can add something new to your repertoire—Chinese drama (or cdrama for those of us in the know).

It’s a slippery slope. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.