Whenever I talk about kdramas with people who don’t watch them, they’re always like ‘why kdramas specifically?’ which I’ve never been able to answer that well, I’ve never really looked that deep into it, I just say that ‘I enjoy them more’.
So to phrase my question better, ‘What makes kdramas more appealing than western dramas?’ I don’t know if a lot of people can relate to this but ever since I got into kdramas, I honestly can’t watch anything else, I still watch some western shows but it’s not the same, I’m not as drawn in. I know that everyone has got their different reasons for why they prefer/enjoy kdramas but I would really like to hear your take on it, maybe I might able to understand more about why I do as well.
That’s a great question! And while our personal reasons for enjoying kdramas more, might differ from person to person, I absolutely know what you mean, about preferring kdramas to Western shows. I used to be pretty into several Western shows, like Grey’s Anatomy, which I followed for something like 1.5 seasons. But ever since I got into kdramas, those shows also don’t appeal to me anymore.
Here’s my attempt to break down the main reasons that kdrama fans prefer it over other types of shows.
As always, if you guys have insights, perspectives &/or experiences to share, please tell us all about it in the comments below! ❤
1. There’s a beginning, and there’s an end.
From what I can tell, many popular shows on American TV get multiple seasons, but, over time, the ratings dip, and audience interest wanes, and more often than not, the show in question either limps to the finish line without a satisfying conclusion, or gets abruptly cut short, without a conclusion at all. This is, understandably, incredibly frustrating for all the remaining fans of the show, because who starts on a story, without also signing up to know the end of said story, right?
To have invested hours of time and interest in multiple seasons of something – often with Show dancing around the same plot points over and over again, in order to fill out the seasons (the McDreamy loveline from Grey’s Anatomy comes to mind; that cycled in place from various different angles, for seasons on end), it’s a huge disappointment to not get a satisfying conclusion in return.
In comparison, kdramas are packaged as single season stories (with the occasional sequel), where, if you sign up for a story, there’s only a small chance that your story will get cut short (due to poor ratings, for example), and even then, a reasonable number of truncated shows still manage to tie up their stories fairly well. By and large, you get to know what happens to your characters, and it doesn’t require the same investment of multiple seasons over several years. You get from the beginning to the end, often within 8 short weeks. That’s less investment for a more sure outcome. Any investor would probably agree that kdrama is the better pick, yes? 😉
2. The focus on the emotional aspect of a relationship
I’ve seen quite a few drama fans comment on this. Basically, where, in many western shows, the focus seems to be on the speed and intensity of physical intimacy between a couple, kdramas take the opposite approach, of teasing out the emotional journey.
Many viewers have become fatigued from the sex and violence which Western networks seem convinced will sell the shows to audiences, and find the purity and emotional focus in kdrama romances a refreshing change.
It’s very rare to find a couple in Dramaland that hops into bed first, then grapples with relationship issues afterwards (though they exist); instead, everything from a text, to a lingering gaze, to a phrase said in conversation, is given time and attention, often with a loving touch, to tease out the emotional journey of two people coming together.
With this context in place (because as I always say, context is everything), when our OTP actually comes together, everything feels that much more satisfying to witness, because the context has enriched our ability to appreciate the moment. In this way, even a single kiss (even the frozen-in-time, stiff fish lips ones) feels more momentous than a couple on Western TV jumping into bed together after their first meeting.
3. It’s a glimpse into a different world
Fatigued viewers are always on the look out for something fresh, and the glimpse into a different language and culture is a nice bonus. It helps that kdramas tend to have high production values, making everything look pretty and polished, and thus upping the touch of magic. With shiny production values, everything in Korea looks extra enticing and novel, and it just makes the cultural bonus all that much more intriguing and mesmerizing, I think.
On a related tangent, it’s not that other Asian dramas don’t provide the same opportunity for cross-cultural appreciation; they absolutely do. It’s just that Korean dramas serve it up in such a pretty package. C-dramas are very polished nowadays as well, but in my personal experience, I feel like kdramas have a better handle on teasing out the romantic emotional journey, whereas C-dramas excel most in their period pieces. No shade on anyone; I’m personally working to include more C-dramas on my drama plate, because I’d like to watch more of them. It’s just that I’ve found more consistency in the kdramas, in providing a rich emotional journey to love.
4. The beautiful leads don’t hurt
Tee hee. I added this in as an afterthought, to be perfectly honest. But, thinking back to what Eyre said recently, on my post listing dramas that the man in your life might be willing to watch, about a beautiful female lead being a solid reason for men to watch, or at least check out a drama, I guess I have to concede that the beautiful leads in our dramas don’t hurt at all.
Korean dramas consistently serve up the eye candy, and even though it’s probably not THE reason you prefer kdramas to western shows, I’m sure most of us can agree that the eye candy doesn’t exactly hurt. 😉
..And that, in a nutshell, is why I think many viewers are turning from Western entertainment to Korean dramas. Of course, your reasons might be quite different from mine, which is cool. Please feel free to share your opinions, insights and experiences in the comments!
I hope this helps!
1. If you feel that I missed anything, or if you have your own insights that you’d like to share with the rest of us, do tell us about it in the comments!
2. Do you have a question of your own? Drop me a comment here or on the Dear kfangurl page, or send me an email!