The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Dear kfangurl: Why do we like kdramas?


I just.. can’t help it? 😍

liability writes:

Hey KFG♥️

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.

Let’s see.. why DO we like kdramas..? 🤔

Dear liability,

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!

Love! ❤


You may appreciate all of the kdramas now. 😉


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!

Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

87 thoughts on “Dear kfangurl: Why do we like kdramas?

  1. I definitely agree especially on the romantic emotional focus. A lot of Western dramas feel sometimes shallow because the show is based on Physical Intimacy rather than emotional intimacy. I’ve always been way more interested in emotional intimacy and so the characters and the ir situations tend to pull me in a lot more. Thanks for your post! I liked it! :]

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have many of the same reasons as you as to why I prefer kdramas over western shows 🙂 There are so many reasons of course, many of which you named, but I think the number one reason is the characters and relationships. Western shows just don’t do so well at crafting complex characters and relationships. I still watch some western shows, but they pale in comparison to kdramas for me. The production value and acting are great, but the actual storytelling usually isn’t and the characters feel shallow and one note. I find myself constantly thinking how a kdrama would do this scene or this relationship and make it better, hehe

    And like you said, it really is a whole combination of things. As OST really draws out emotions and is a priority in kdramas whereas the music doesn’t stand out at all in western shows. It feels like romance doesn’t exist either where kdramas excel at it. But it really is those characters that allow me to watch a show that has a basic plot I’ve seen many times before and still enjoy it. because thought goes into them to make them relatable and to have a journey of growth to go on. That just never gets old 🙂


  3. OMG! Almost 80 comments! This sure has been a popular topic. 😀 I’m kinda late to the party.

    I’d say, initially all of the reasons you mentioned played at least some part in my journey into the kdrama rabbit hole. Number 1 certainly but the main one being that I had become very bored and disillusioned with western shows and just wanted something with less gratuitous sex and shallow relationships and more ‘story’ overall. Which to my great delight I discovered with kdramas and later on with shows from other Asian countries. After the western shows then, kdramas seemed so exciting, vibrant and full of life. I loved the use of well thought out OST/BGM (which sadly seems to be gone these days) to enhance the storytelling and e.g symbolism in colours and the way many scenes were filmed to give them that extra something. I was so thoroughly hooked that I watched a number of makjangy melos and soppy romances that aren’t usually my cup of tea at all. Everything was gloriously new and shiny. 🙂 I also fell in love with the Korean language, more so that with all The Pretty, ha.

    Well, more than decade has passed and the question I seem to be asking these days is not really “why I like to watch kdramas” but rather “why am I STILL watching kdramas”. The lustre has certanly diminished considerably over the years and e.g many of the special ‘quirks’ and tropes that I found so charming before are now highly irritating. I’m far less likely to overlook things like glaring flaws in the writing, recycling of plots and The Stupid than I once was. As romance is not the main draw for me, it’s also a lot harder to find kdramas that hook me enough to even get past the first few episodes. So, why AM I still watching? To tell the truth, I don’t really know. Force of habit maybe? 🙂 Or perhaps the hope that among the dramas produced each year, there will still be a few that speak to me, that can still breath life to the magic that once was.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Timescout!! 😀 You’re not late to the party at all!! 😀 Indeed, that’s a big question for long-time drama fans. When the novelty wears out, why do we keep on watching? I don’t think I struggle as much as you do, to find shows to enjoy, but I do feel some of that jadedness in my own drama journey, and for me, I think the main reason I keep watching, despite the many duds out there that just don’t work for me, the same as you: the hope and belief that there are still good dramas out there, that are worth sifting through the duds for. 😉 And of course, force of habit plays a part too, I’m sure. 😅 But more the first reason, I want to believe! 😆


      • Yup, the struggle is real. Being a long-time, picky and not particularly romantic drama fan ain’t easy. 😁 In all honesty I have to say there aren’t that many dramas from other countries


        • Dang, did it again. Pressed send accidentally. Dratted phone! To continue… there aren’t that many dramas from other coutries that I’ve found to worth watching either. Ancient Detective was a pleasant surprise though.


          • That’s great that you loved it!! It just so happens that my mom stumbled on it on YouTube, and she’s liking it very well too! 😀 So.. there’s lots of stuff to sift through, but in the end, there’s always a gem or two, that make you feel excited to watch dramas, again. ❤


          • Hi Timescout – Ancient Detective was a very pleasant surprise indeed. I thought the cinematography was quite beautiful. Hoping for a second season but we may not get it due to those issues between the writer and director and that would be a shame.


  4. Ah, I’m so glad this question was asked and then answered so well! Those are definitely the highlights of these dramas for me. It’s always fun to put a lot of thought into why we like something so darn much, and it’s encouraging to see that the most outstanding qualities are largely perceived and appreciated by others.

    The duration is definitely a huge plus for for me, as I like complete stories that can be processed in a reasonable amount of time. I want them to be long enough that I can get lost in them, but not so long that they lose me. 🙂 While not every show sticks the landing, their finite structure at least gives the writers a fighting chance to make the arcs smooth and bring them together in a meaningful way. It’s the immersion and character bonding you can get from a sitcom or “regular” show, combined with the satisfaction and polish (usually) of a film.

    The glimpse into another world was actually the inciting draw for me, and to your point, the presentation of that world goes a long way towards my continued enjoyment. Because romance is either the primary focus or at least heavily featured, we get to see a lot of the soft lighting and sun flares that create the dreamy, fantastical atmosphere. There are exceptions of course, but most of the shows coming to mind at the moment are rather bright and colorful with fun and/or polished work places and unique and/or cozy dwellings. I’m fairly certain the whole country (or even city for that matter) isn’t as stylish and vibrant as most of the settings we see our characters interact in, but that’s okay. Just as I like to drive through amazingly-landscaped housing developments with immense, picturesque estates just to bask in the opulence of it all, so too do I like feasting my eyes on the best and most enticing scenery other countries have to offer. (And as a bonus, the prevalence of those idealistic locations really enhances the contrast when a show like “My Mister” comes along that is more about the grit. Darker, colder tones really sink into my bones when I’ve been watching warm sparkles most of the time. 🙂

    The factor I love the most though is your #2–a focus on the relationship. Can’t say enough about that, and you summed it up quite nicely. 🙂 I find that I’m most interested in how a relationship changes and progresses, and that’s almost always what gets cut short or sidelined in “normal” shows. Right when they’re getting to the good part, they either cut away and relegate the resolution to an ambiguous off-screen conversation, or they wrap it up prematurely with some ostensibly deep (but oftentimes hollow) line followed by physical intimacy.

    It was such a welcome relief and surprise to actually see the scenes played out! These shows aren’t afraid of dialogue or explaining a character’s thoughts and motivations. Sometimes they go a little overboard with the soliloquies, but I’d rather that than just gloss over a transitional moment or epiphany.

    And for me, that relational exploration ties into your #4 regarding the beautiful leads. I’ll admit, usually when I start watching a show, I’m not particularly enticed by the leading lady–particularly if its the first time I’ve seen her. There’s rarely an attempt to sexualize her–in fact, depending on her situation, they may be showing her in a rather comical or unflattering way. There’s nothing that says, “Behold, the lead! Isn’t she so desirable!?” She is, for all intents and purposes, presented just like any other gal. (That’s part of her appeal, in fact.) So, just like when I see a girl in real life, I notice her, but I’m not immediately drawn to her. But because the shows let things develop slowly over time, I get to know her personality. I get to see so many more sides of her character, including the “boring” day-to-day activities. I see her go grocery shopping, feed the cat, ride the bus, read a book. These are all things that often have to be sacrificed in other genres because they aren’t advancing the plot (or not doing it fast enough). But with relationally-focused stories, fleshing out characters IS advancing the plot.

    Between moments created by the content, and a plethora of close-ups, I get to really “see” the character, and usually by the third or fourth episode, an attraction has developed. Sometimes it happens faster, and sometimes it is immediate, but typically she becomes endearing the more I see her. For example, I initially didn’t really think too much about Yoon Ji-ho in BTIOFL. I thought she was pleasant enough, but I wasn’t like, “Woah, she’s beautiful!” But around episode three, I remember thinking, “…Woah…she’s beautiful!” 😉 I don’t know if it’s the familiarity or what, but most of the time I feel like my attraction unfolds slowly just as the romance unfolds slowly. I’m not getting slapped with, “Check out this hottie in a bikini–aren’t you going to enjoy watching her for the next two hours?!”. I’m seeing a person come into focus gradually, and the more I see of her, the more I like ‘er.

    Not gonna lie, it helps that they are in fact portrayed by lovely actresses, and I have certainly found characters attractive despite them being horrible people in the story. But I’d say most of the time the beauty sinks in after a few episodes…and then of course I’ll seek out other shows the actress has played in. 🙂

    The only aspect of these shows that I would add to the list is “whimsy”. I realized this after our discussion about the topic after your “Romance is a Bonus Book” review. One of the first things I noticed was that these shows have a wide variety of tones and approaches, and most of the time they let me know what I can expect by the degree and type of whimsy there is in the first couple episodes. Will it be a little quirky with a bit of slapstick SFX? Will it be really zany with cartoon bubbles and animated avatars? Will it be more subdued with stylized moments and some OTT acting? Or will it be non-existent, letting nothing detract from the sombre atmosphere?

    I honestly think it could be this element that would address the other side of the question: Why DON’T people like kdramas? When I think about dramas I feel most comfortable recommending to people, it’s usually the ones with virtually no whimsy. This isn’t because I necessarily like them more, but because I’ve found that whimsy or fun or goofy elements confuse a lot of people. Not because they’re stupid, but because they weren’t coming to the drama for the reasons stated here. If they aren’t prepared for or wanting to see a whole different culture, or if they don’t crave a slower relational burn, then they aren’t in a position to embrace something that doesn’t align with their expectations.

    They’re already having to adjust to reading subtitles (and having to decipher what is really being said due to occasional hiccups in the translation) and seeing unfamiliar aesthetics–if you add even a moderate dose of whimsy, it just throws the whole experience off. And again, since they aren’t already invested because of what the genre has to offer, they have no motivation to adapt to or understand–let alone appreciate–the surrealism, comical or otherwise.

    Anywho, this post wasn’t about that. 🙂 I just wanted to say that one of the reasons I like kdramas is the whimsy. It’s the reason I enjoy shows like “Community”, “30 Rock”, “Scrubs”, and “The Good Place”. Those shows also have a nice dose of whimsy and self-awareness that I’ve always found refreshing. Probably 85% of the kdramas I’ve seen have a nice smattering of fanciful elements that bring levity, comedy and sometimes clarity to a scene. I certainly wouldn’t rank whimsy as high as the four factors discussed here, but I think it warrants an honorable mention. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Your post encapsulates how I feel! And I so agree with the whimsy bit – I too don’t recommend zany Kdramas unless I know it’s to someone’s taste. To someone who has never watched a Kdrama I would recommend shows like My Ajusshi Misaeng Prison Playbook – heartfelt watches that captivate hearts but are definitely not zany (Ok maybe Prison Playbook’s humour is but it’s generally so heartfelt that it’s worth watching!)

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think you explained very well how the physical appearance of the actors/actresses actually “captivate” the viewers. When I made that comment that kfangurl referenced, I certainly also didn’t mean some sort of crass sexual attraction. As you pointed out, rarely are leads actually presented as sexual objects in most kdramas. Indeed, usually the one who is introduced as “the sexy attractive one” in the drama will be the lead’s obnoxious rival.

      When Lee Sun Gyun met Song Ji Hyo for “My Wife’s Having An Affair This Week”, he said he “immediately fell in love with her”, as she was “more beautiful in person” and “very pretty when she smiles”. Even just from this initial encounter he said it was already heartbreaking for him to think that he had to act like they spited each other in the drama. Drama viewers can “fall in love” with the beautiful lead actor/actress in a similar way. Of course, whether this “love” will be sustained and maybe deepened still depends on the story and the actors’ skill. 🙂


  5. Oo I love this post! I was actually thinking along these lines recently – I started watching american series House of Cards but I dropped it after maybe 7 or 8 episodes and went to Hospital Playlist. Granted they are two very very different shows – HP is such a gentle sweet slice of life and House of Cards is R21 for a reason!! but I was so taken aback and disrobed by the amount of sex, drugs, swear words, betrayals and all around bad behaviour. I was interested coz I enjoyed the cunning power plays but soon it devolved into straight out cheating and lying which didn’t sit right with me. Perhaps I am more traditional in values but it was just too much. So watching HP was so lovely, haha.

    Having said that, I should caveat that I wasn’t really a TV watching person. I prefer reading and specific movies but all that changed when I stumbled upon Kdramas. Now Netflix and Viu are my best friends! 😂😂 In my 2-3 years watching Kdramas I think probably watched less than 5 “Western” TV dramas in these few years – House of Cards is one, The Good Place, Brooklyn 99, The Crown, that’s about it.

    I absolutely agree with all the reasons in your post. For me, I love the fact that there’s a clear start and end (don’t even get me started on how much I hate Netflix’s season- approach to Kdramas!) I also love how Kdramas treat love and relationships – all of the feelzzzz that you don’t get in a western show perhaps. I also like that the miniseries format allows for greater exploration of a character growth and fleshing out of themes compared to a 2 hour movie, but it’s not so dragged out that plots cycle in place over multiple seasons. And on a shallower end, I realise I like the pretty boy look over the muscular strapping guy (so while half my office went crazy over Jason Momoa he did nothing for me!) so Korean actors are totally my style, lol. And perhaps Asian shows reflect timeless traditional Asian values – the family filial piety, respect for elders, emphasis on the sacredness of marriage (less casual sex or at least in a committed relationship!) etc. And most of all I watch shows to find comfort and enjoyment, so the thoughtful writing and emotional growth / relationship growth that the characters go through are some of the top things Kdramas do so well.

    Ok, I’m rambling. I really enjoyed this post and thanks so much for articulating how we all feel! ♥️♥️♥️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi MC!! Always great to see ya! ❤ How perfect, that you were recently thinking along these same lines! Hi5! 😀 That's so cute, that you weren't a TV-watching kinda gal, but are now consuming kdramas on the regular! 😀 Thinking back, I wasn't watching much tv either, when I first got into dramas, aaand.. I'm now blogging about dramas. 😆😆

      I completely agree that the mini series format works better for the exploration of characters and relationships.. I often feel like movies can't do that, and sometimes watching a movie feels like watching a highlight reel – though that could be because I've been spoiled by the degree of detail that mini series can get into. 😉 Also, yes to the appeal of values that resonate with u

      I do think that watching dramas affects the types that we're drawn to. I think once upon a time, when I watched more Western tv, the muscular strapping type was appealing to me, because that's what was portrayed as appealing, in the shows. Since moving over to Asian dramas, I've found that – just like you – someone like Jason Momoa truly does nothing for me. 😅 I guess I'm easily influenced by the media that I consume. 😝


      • Yes, I was so happy to see your post! Haha see, the power of dramas to change us!

        Yes I fully agree with you on the serialisation format… even The Crown, which follows the life of the royal family over decades, can’t go so in depth into each person because they have limited episodes and so many stories to cover (and so many members of the royal family too). So the characterisation feels a bit touch and go (even though they do try to show it.. which isn’t the case for all shows).

        And yes, so true for how the types we like are affected by the media we consume and what is presented as “handsome” or “hot”! Hence my love for Jung Kyung Ho who is just so handsome (hahhha). Take care my friend and I hope with the circuit breaker ending that work pick up soon!


  6. Ever since I started watching both Japanese and Korean shows, I’ve also been wondering why I preferred them over Western ones. (I don’t like calling them “dramas” because not all of them are emotionally heavy. 😉) The fact is I’m able to relate to the characters more, probably because our cultures are similar?

    Also, American rom-coms just don’t have that fairytale-like romantic feel that makes my heart flutter. Their approach to love is more calculated and manipulating. They play mind games to get the guy or girl. Japanese and Korean shows portray love in a more innocent and straightforward manner. It’s like the love we all wish we had. But I’m not sure if I’m explaining it right. Haha! 😜

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh yes, I can say that I identify with Korean culture more than I do American culture, for example, since I’m Chinese. There’s definitely a good amount of similarity between Korean culture and my own, so it’s easier to relate, as you shared. 🙂 And that’s very true, there’s often a fairytale quality to the romances in kdramas (I’m less familiar with J-dramas coz I’ve seen much fewer of them, so I’ll refrain from making a statement about them 😅), and I do agree that many of us find the fairytale romance an appealing fantasy to sink into, for a while. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Nowadays I find myself picking up and enjoying kdramas with these 3 elements:

    – Purposeful, concise storytelling
    – Logical, consistent character development
    – Artistic and societal value (Beautiful World, an underrated 2019 gem on school bullying and parenting culture comes to mind)

    I’ve recently sampled Korean movies via the masterpieces Parasite and Kim Ji-young Born 1982 — brilliant, eye-opening critique on class and gender inequality, respectively. I’ll never look at rain the same way again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh yes, if a show can give us all three of those elements, it would be an awesome show indeed!! 🤩🤩 I haven’t seen Beautiful World, because I heard it can be a difficult watch, and I.. need to be prepared, when approaching difficult subjects. 😅 Have you seen Silenced? Based on your 3 criteria, I feel like you ought to find the movie a meaningful watch. Granted, the subject matter is also difficult, but if you’re ok with Beautiful World, I feel like you’d be ok to watch Silenced too. 🙂


      • On that matter: societal value. Can anyone explain to me why people like this so much these days?
        I mean I didn’t like beautiful world and I think parasite is way too overhyped…


        • Hm.. It’s not a must for me personally, but when it’s done well, I do find it thought-provoking. As for why it’s being talked about more.. maybe it’s coz, with our world getting more and more troubled, people feel the urge to be more socially aware? Just my 1.2 cents! 😅

          PS: I’m also in the camp that didn’t enjoy Parasite so much.. Maybe it’s just too deep for me. 😝


          • That could be it but aren’t we all aware of the worlds grievances but we just don’t care enough or ignore them? I mean when I watched parasite I thought I know society is like this I mean just look outside. I don’t need a movie to show me that. Thought provoking is very hard to achieve because I already thought about pretty much everything related to the grievances of the world.

            PS: I don’t think the movie is deep… it is just way too obvious and boring… I mean you must one weird crackhead to have never thought about the bad side of the world…


            • Unfortunately, I don’t think there are as many socially aware &/or socially responsible people out there as we’d like to think. I mean.. some of the videos floating around these days, about how “regular people” are behaving, is quite disturbing and sad. And movies – not Parasite per se, but movies, well, and dramas too, in general – have an immersive element to it that I think is very useful. It helps us to see things in a new light, especially if we become invested in a character, and start to empathize with them. The stories help to humanize the numbers, and so I do think there is value in that. 🙂

              Liked by 3 people

              • I feel they do know but they just couldn‘t care less.
                I think you are right about the immersive element and about the value at least for some people.
                I just never had the experience that a movie or a show changed my Perspective on things at least not in a good way.


                • I do not know if this will work for you, because I have felt like the show Secret Love Affair, which was produced a year before adultery was no longer a criminal offense, and years before the recent American admissions scandal brought the issues of such admissions cheating, provided a serious commentary on social issues, while at the same time being a very effective drama about living a meaningful life, love that while seemingly transgressional from a societal point of view, when it comes to individuals migh hold water, and art.
                  However, I think the debates that go on in the sageuk Deep Rooted Tree, are entirely thought provoking, as they touch upon governance, language, class, and political power. I have thought about this stuff most of my now very long life, and still I found the back and forth between the main character and his antagonist quite interesting.


                  • Yes I watched Secret Love Affair and I semi liked it. Loved the scene with the main leads in them but all that power play and political stuff was just plain boring.

                    “However, I think the debates that go on in the sageuk Deep Rooted Tree, are entirely thought provoking, as they touch upon governance, language, class, and political power.” – That is true but I just can’t seem to care about these topics. I am well aware of the grievances these topics produce but they are all pointless to me.


                    • Well it is easy to understand alienation, but I would say, the whole of the dynamic between the main leads, in SLA, and I am certain that Kim Hee Ae and Yoo Ah In are a large part of the magnetism for a viewer, is the underlying social realities from which the main characters each emerge. You may not have cared much about the shenanigans of the cheobol, but without the allure of money for someone of Hyewon’s background, skill set, and smarts are often inevitable, which in one of the great scenes of the show, Hyewon speaks of as the devil whispering in her ear, without the mixed blessing of the money it took to catapult Yoo Ah In’s artistic ambitions, without the societal view of class, age with regard to romantic relationships, marriage as an institution, without all that there is no story at all.

                      The issue of class and the allure of wealth, the unequal distribution of power in gender relationships, these and at the back of all this a profoundly Confucian culture for hundreds of years, these are part and parcels of everyday life, not to mention the back story of having been colonised for almost a half century after hundreds of years being an independent state, and then riven in two within the past generation in which one nation has been taken over by an utter dictator, one who however seems to perpetuate a rather Korean concept of divine power, while the democratic version has suffered through immense suffering and corruption in its leadership up until recently. These kinds of issues are the fabric of the lives there.

                      Here our aversion to politics, because of the ever increasing fruitlessness produced by our divisions, while at the same time having the illusion of by and large material wealth, even the poorest families have big screen tvs and eight hundred dollar or more phones, this combination of hopelessness side by side with even poor folks order pizza delivered to their homes has kept us pretty much insulated from these kinds of debates being as universally important on the personal level. Unless of course, one is say today working in a meat packing house for $12/hour while being told your employer will not release the actual numbers of those infected at your plant, and so on. If we are isolated from the effects leading to real grievance, after a while it begins to sound like a baby crying in the next room–can’t anyone calm that baby down?

                      Liked by 1 person

          • Hi, K. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. For me, visual storytelling (through television and cinema) serves a twofold purpose: entertainment as a temporary escape, balanced with deeper, reflective pieces reminds us of why and how we can become better citizens and neighbors, in our own little way.

            My appreciation of Parasite was deepened by reading up on and understanding the symbols shown in the film. Rain was an interesting symbolism explored in Parasite — a minor inconvenience for the elite living upstream, while a catastrophe for the working class living downstream (a concept also explored in HG Wells’ The Time Traveler). For me, effective storytelling is not just the WHAT, but the HOW — and everyday symbols (often hidden in plain sight) are a refreshing, engaging way to convey a message.

            Agree that we not enjoy critically acclaimed works equally. I recall our conversation in the R88 thread that I was in the unpopular minority that didn’t enjoy this show as much, despite the heartwarming messages on family and the main loveline…Primarily because of episode length. 🙂 We all have our personal preferences, after all. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  8. Kfangurl, I have to think about this subject too! The little grey cells are starting to short circuit 😜 Personally, I don’t mind how long a show is. Yes, it’s true for many western serials, they do nose dive after a while. There are a number of exceptions though. I do find, as much as I enjoy kdramas and the like, due to their short run, often the ending is the weakest element. That doesn’t mean they end up with a stronger ending just because they might add in a few extra episodes either. We have certainly seen where that hasn’t worked.

    So, why do I like kdramas, cdramas, jdramas, hkdramas, tdramas and thai dramas (not all thai dramas are lakorns – thank goodness)? I’m not really sure, but I can say many are refreshing, well made, are in fact relatable and are thought provoking. I find many cdramas crash and burn. They start of well, then go through this blip and then plummet into the blackhole of no return.

    I think I have said this before, many of the kdrama actresses appear to have a much better acting range, skill and ability than many of the male actors out there (I won’t mention the exceptions will I 😂?). A number of the key kdrama actresses also teach drama and so hold professorships in this area.

    I do look for the relationships in any drama. Again, it is about the level of connection that people have that makes the world go round. And that intrigues me. I always find the over achieving and over promising an interesting dynamic in any story and following on from that how fallible our characters are. When it’s all said and done, each year throws up a number of amazing stares and so I keep watching in the hope there will always be another, fantastic, beautiful and relatable story 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh! I’m guilty of not knowing that Lakorn didn’t refer to Thai series as a whole, but to soap operas as a sub-genre! (Thanks, Google, I would’ve never known, with you!). And you’re so right, not every show ends well.. I think the writers’ visions for their stories are subjected to too much pressure from audience reactions and the need to work in PPL. So when a story actually ends on a satisfying note, it always earns extra brownie points in my book! 😀

      I haven’t watched too many C-dramas as yet, but I do get what you mean.. I’ve seen a fair number that started well, but then crashed and burned.. like The Eternal Love (not to be confused with Peaches), that was a whole lot of fun, until it imploded on itself in the second half. I was very bummed about that. Especially since I’d loved the first half so much that I’d gotten into the habit of watching episodes back-to-back, and just kept continuing that habit, even when the show started its nosedive. Habits can be treacherous things! 😝😝

      I do agree that the character and relationship development are the things that consistently grab me the most, and I tend to gravitate to shows that do that well, over shows that have an ambitious premise (which often fails to hold up).

      Oh yes, every year the list of gems always holds some surprises, and I often find that they are dramas that I might not naturally gravitate towards.. YAY for drama pals who are more than willing to share good finds! 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  9. So true! For me No.1 is the main point but all others count too. I can’t understand when people are demanding 2nd seasons since in 99% the story is told. What do you want more? Want to ride the horse until it is dead? Even when I don’t like the ending I always can make up an own in my mind or when it is popular enough, read fanfictions. Normally the authors irk the same as me.
    About No.4 I noticed that I find other actors/actresses attractive than most but I don’t mind them being in the backround as long they are there :P.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lol. I guess it’s a human instinct, to want more of something that they’re enjoying, and that’s why people clamor for sequels.. I take it that they just aren’t ready to say goodbye to the characters. I do agree, though, that most of the time, a sequel isn’t actually needed, and it’s probably better to leave well enough alone. I mean, I loved Dream High when it came out, so I can understand why they wanted to make Dream High 2, but DH2 was truly awful, so I think they should’ve just not gone there, to begin with! 😆


  10. I love this post! This has been something I had often wondered about for myself. I haven’t always been a huge fan of K-dramas (more into C-dramas and TW-dramas) but US TV has never got me as hooked as it did with Asian dramas. My theory (for me anyway) is that US dramas tend to focus more on plot, suspense and the shock factor and less on character development or relationships. Which makes me lose interest really, really quickly since who cares about plot? (not me) HAHA

    Also, the amount of sex in US TV is so annoying and cheap. Huge turnoff. And the way relationships just pop out of nowhere in the middle of the season and next you know they break up and a new relationship pops up. Although when it comes to humour, I definitely appreciate US comedies more than Asian dramas.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Simeon!! ❤ That's so true, that relationships tend to pop out of nowhere, and then get retired in the next season, to make room for another tangential loveline. All the crisscrossing lovelines in Beverly Hills 902010 even Friends come to mind. After a certain point, it's hard to keep it straight in your head, who's dated who and when. 😆😆 In contrast, in kdramas, it's rare for a character to even date more than one person in the course of the story. And with the emphasis on True Love, there's very little of that relationship roulette that tends to plague western serials.

      Like you, my interest is greatest in the area of the believability and authenticity of the character and relationship development, so even when a kdrama falters on other plot points, I can be forgiving, if the show manages to serve up satisfying character and relationship arcs. And many kdramas manage quite nicely on those points. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I feel like US TV shows are trying to be more “realistic” but it gets to the point where it’s becoming a parody on its own tropes LOL. I liked that recent US TV shows like Brooklyn 99 and The Good Place have just one main couple (among other things).

        Yeah!! And that’s what makes the shows so easy to invest in. It’s also quite singular in its focus on the characters and their story, rather than twisting and turning just to make it more “interesting” (also why I dropped Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder)


        • It occurs to me, that it says quite something, that shows that only have one main couple stand out that much, among their peers. 😛🤔 And that’s such a great word; after a while it all feels like a parody, because it becomes so extreme. 😅 And agreed, I get turned off when I feel like a show is trying too hard to be “interesting.” Storytelling is best when it feels organic and flows naturally. ❤

          Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t watch most US anymore since they became so dystopian, has so much violence and oversexed (sex is just normal in my country and nothing that needs to be overdone to be noticed, it is just part of the life). They may have good scripts but I can’t get over all the other things. Probably I prefer utopian or intelligent dystopian stories. The only series I saw and liked last years was The Orville. All others my hubby liked or even loved never made me want to watch more than one episode.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I definitely agree on the oversexed part. It’s so over the top it’s gotten to the point of parody LOL. I do watch a lot of US comedies though like Brooklyn 99 and The Good Place. The latter is quite smart writing but also doesn’t take itself too seriously. And not a lot of sex which is good HAHA


  11. I love this post. I hope that the kdrama industry reads it too and stays true to its root. I really was fed up with the toxic masculinity and over sexualization of female characters in Western dramas. Even in kdramas that are problematic like Boys over Flowers, I appreciated scenes like where Yoon Ji Hoo cries and the Grand Pa consoles him after Geum Jan Di says no to his proposal. How many western shows ever show a man crying and that too for being rejected? I literally cannot think of one. I really love that scene and it got me hooked on kdramas. Pretty much every kdrama will show male character crying at some tough point. I so appreciate that they show crying is okay. Even the chaebol jerk changing into a nicer guy is something refreshing to me. There are way too many western shows where the girl is uptight and spoiled and the guy is fun and finally gets the girl to have fun. I love how it is the male character in kdramas that has to grow and change.
    I was apprehensive to watch Touch Your Heart as I thought it would be about a spoiled actress who needs to learn how to behave nicely. Imagine my surprise when it turns out that not only is Oh Jin Shim is not spoiled but actually really wants to be a good secretary. She may be naive but her heart is in the right place.
    Another thing is I am always surprised by how much I end up loving the secondary characters. Even in crash landing into you, I was very much emotionally vested in the Ahjummas and the NK soldier group, Healer where I love the hacker ahjumma, in Suspicious Partners, the lawyer group and their meetings were hilarious. The list is pretty endless.
    Also your blog plays a role too. I love watching a show and then reading your reviews to see how much we agreed. I feel like I may have avoided many bad kdrmas and only have watched the best ones, thanks to you. I recently finished Healer which ordinary might not have stood out to me but I know you love it and it really was awesome show. Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this post, SZ! ❤ That's a great point about the toxic masculinity and over-sexualization of female characters in Western entertainment.. I don't watch many Western shows these days, but on the occasions when I do dip my toes into a Hollywood movie on a flight, I do feel a difference, and that usually makes my next return to dramas feels extra comforting and refreshing. 😅 And you're so right, even the characters who start out as macho jerks, end up shedding a tear or two, by the end of the story.

      I agree, the secondary characters can be so appealing and interesting, aside from the OTP. Sometimes, I find myself even more interested in the secondary characters than the OTP, depending on the show. 😉 And OH YES, I loved the Ahjummas and the Puppies in CLOY, and I LOVED Hacker Ahjumma in Healer!! 😍😍😍 Truly unforgettable!!

      Aw, that's so nice, that you include this blog as part of your drama journey, SZ! 😀 And, YAYYY that you gave Healer a chance and loved it! That makes me happy! 😀


  12. I appreciate how this post is solely populated with CLOY photos! That show is the epitome of all that works about k dramas.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Tee hee!! You read my mind, Nina!! 😀 That was my exact thought process when it came to what images to pick for this post! CLOY really is the epitome of everything that works in kdramas! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  13. As a fan myself, I would qualify my comments by saying, I am not into all K Drama, which by its very bulk contains series that are as ho hum to me as anything produced anywhere. And I do not limit my taste to K Dramas. For example, I have preferred the Amazon detective series Bosch to any I have seen serialized in K Drama, the best of which I have seen would be Stranger. And recently PBS aired a simply terrific World War 2, European Front, series, World on Fire, which contained many of the virtues of great K Drama series, beginning with an ensemble of terrific actors, lead and support. And I would start there with my love of some K Drama. The size and quality of the ensembles. One of the things I love best the really great acting in K Drama is how the actors inhabit their roles, both individually and in relation to one another. And this is as true for character actors as it is for the leads, maybe even moreso. Add that to the range of some of these actors. One thinks one has a handle on one actor until one sees her or him in a number of roles, and then, simply wow–these folks know how to act. There should be drama courses based on some of these performances, and I would since so many of them are trained via their educations, a willingness to have Korean drama instructors hired in the US and Europe.
    The second thing I really like is the encyclopedic repertoires of plotting and plot devices used by the story runners. While not every series is able to finish that well, and the ones that do, for me anyway, differentiate the A and A+ dramas from the B levels, really to watch a good K Drama is to marvel at plot complication and device–they hold one’s attention over the course of a long series and from one episode to the next. In line with that I like the meaty length of each episode. A good K Drama is one in which whereever one started at the beginning of one episode, one has matriculated several levels by the end of that episode.
    I like how they are entertainments, and like some Shakespearean drama, comedy and tragedy, tragedy and comedy exist side by side seamlessly. And I must say, I like how the very best K Dramas do not compromise when a hard ending is called for. This seems to be a somewhat diminishing phenomenon, unfortunately, but I like how some writers and directors can do the math and have the courage to follow through.
    I like how literary and intelligent K Dramas are. Here is something often lacking in drama from elsewhere, but most especially the US. I have tried to eschew specific examples in this, but with regard to this, I cannot help but think of Bad Papa, a Jang Hyuk vehicle, in which he plays a mixed boxing/martial art fighter, an extremely seedy scene, and somehow the whole thing is contextualized by a novel by Doestoevsky. Simply amazing. Poetry, classical music, art is fair game in K Drama.
    Finally, I really like well done sageuks. Other countries produce historical and period piece epics, but the Koreans really know how to do it. And the ability to interweave profound meditations on class and political power, greed, desire, while providing magnetic and well choreographed action scenes borders on the amazing. What one usually sees elsewhere is either stodgy philosophical story telling or boring wham bam thank you m’am action, tut the best K Drama sageuks, like Deep Rooted Tree, can have one thinking long after viewing about history and power and class from its wonderfully presented debate duels or simply astounded by the choreography of its fight scenes. That is as with the willingness to present fine art influences in popular drama, there is also a willingness to challenge a popular artist with the intelligence of the writers.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi BE!! Always great to see you! 😀 Thanks for sharing your insights, that really adds to the richness of this topic! ❤ I didn't see Bad Papa, but that's amazing, that a story set in a seedy scene, centered around boxing and martial arts, is contextualized by a novel by Doestoevsky! I guess Doestoevsky's writing must have been timeless enough for the writers to work with too.. I mean, that's quite mindblowing, that something from the 1800s could be relevant enough for a modern writer to write around! 😀

      One thing I've noticed about sageuks, is that unlike other period pieces that I've seen, sageuks tend to be consistent about injecting heart into their stories, even if the stories are all about the history, or about the court machinations. My Country comes to mind. In a setting where a key historical figure like Lee Bang Won is on the cusp of founding the Joseon dynasty, Show brings it to life with a raw, throbbing star-crossed bromance. I thought that was quite unique to kdramas – though I admittedly haven't seen enough period pieces across countries to make a truly informed statement about that! 😅

      And YES, I have to agree, Korea does have some very fine actors, both men and women. The delivery of the best consistently delve into the small nuances and emotional layers, and it's a treat to witness. The skills and mastery are the kind of level one might expect of films, but we are regularly treated to fantastic performances on our small screens. A really lovely plus, I say! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • K–first off, apologies in advance for so many typos. I am writing so much right now, and so with my own work, I am putting in overtime on proofing, and my eyes are screen fatigued, and what with the very small font in the comment box…I apologize.
        I do agree that part of the charm of sageuks has to do with the humanity and human relationships of the characters. I was not so much a fan of the bromance in My Country, mostly because the actors were so roundly being upstaged, and because the female characters were mia, especially the lead female. I was far more taken in the first instance in the interactions between Jang Hyuk’s interactions with Kim Yeong Cheol as Lee Bang Won and Lee Seong Gye, than that of the two leads. And the only interesting and fleshed out woman character in the drama, Seo Seol, played by Jang Young Nam, was killed off midway through. But I can think of all of my favorite sageuks and historical dramas and the humanity of the characterizations, particularly among the supporting cast, and I agree, there is a beating heart in the best of these. Speaking of bromance in this vein, one cannot help but think that in the light sageuk, Sungyungkwan Scandal, the bromance between the characters played by Yoo Ah In and Song Joon Ki–don’t you wish to see something else the two of them were in together–is both funny and very touching. Finally, I would also add the fact that most of the characters refuse to reduce to stereotype of good and evil, albeit the villains sometimes are deliciously villainous, provides a human aspect to the dramas.
        For me, of the contemporary dramas I have seen Jang Hyuk in, Bad Papa has been my favorite. It is a bit rough and uneven, and there is a sci-fi element to it that the plot turns on, which maybe always threatens to fail in the suspension of disbelief factor because the grittiness of the story is somewhat undercut by this plot device. But there are episodes that are simply riveting. Since you have not seen it, and as the Jang Hyuk fan I know you are I will simply say shame on you, girl, I will not go into detail about the scenes and episodes that caught my attention.
        I did not like Money Flower as much, mostly because I thought it went on and on and on, like the cliche of the gangster movie in which the death throes of a bad guy just will not end, and could have been pruned back considerably; a sixteen episode season would have tightened it down. But one of the charms of Money Flower is that it, albeit briefly, highlighted two of Korea’s most famous poets, particularly 1940s poet Yun Dong Ju, who while being now considered one of Korea’s greatest 20th C poets, and deservedly so as he was one of the world’s great 20th C poets, was never published during his own lifetime and died in a Japanese prison during World War 2. Can one imagine in any one of the popular American tv shows about corporate corruption, one of the characters being given a collection of poems by Robert Frost to comfort himself when in prison?
        As I have previously told you, Mr. Sunshine was the first K drama I saw, and what I noticed watching it was among other things both the main character as enacted by Kim Tae-Ri being well versed in Confucius and Mencius (both of whom I am slowly going through as a result of watching K Drama) but also in her correspondence with her paramour sending him classical Korean poetry. Can one fathom, for example, a character in an American drama, being well versed in Greek philosophers or sending a loved one a poem by Emily Dickinson or Wallace Stevens? I know I cannot.
        And think also of Chicago Typewriter, the ambition of the main characters.
        Then there is also the fascination with western classical music, best represented in Secret Love Affair. We see at times a two hour movie with such a focus, but with the exception of the very fine and extremely underrated American HBO series Treme which focused on the life of musicians and chefs accompanied by brilliant musicians and music, such would never occur in American televised drama.

        Prologue by Yun Dong-ju

        Until the day I die
        I long to have no speck of shame
        when I gaze up toward heaven,
        so I have tormented myself,
        even when the wind stirs the leaves.
        With a heart that sings the stars,
        I will love all dying things.
        And I will walk the way
        that has been given to me.

        Tonight, again, the wind brushes the stars.


        • Aw, I’m sorry about the screen fatigue you’re experiencing, BE! I feel you.. today, my eyes seem to be feeling some of that too; just a general feeling of tiredness, and the urge to look at faraway things, to rest the eyes. It’s weird coz I’ve not increased my screen time dramatically. But, my point is, I feel your pain! Is there a way for you to adjust the display on your screen, so that stuff looks bigger? I’m trying that out right now, and it does feel more comfortable, relatively speaking. 🙂

          Yes, that’s true, that the bromance in My Country was regularly upstaged.. I could’ve thought of a more solid example! 😅 I still managed to enjoy the bromance reasonably well, despite the detracting factors. Oh yes, the bromance between Yoo Ah In and Song Joong Ki was wonderful, in SKKS.. one of my favorites. ❤ I would absolutely be on board with a screen reunion for them! 😀 I agree, the writing in the sageuks are often layered enough so that characters aren't reduced to stereotypes, and that's something I do appreciate. 🙂

          Tee hee. You are right, I'm a terrible fangirl. I actually haven't seen quite a number of Jang Hyuk's projects, despite liking him a lot. I've a renewed interest in checking out Bad Papa, after your solid endorsement of the show, so I've put it back on my list of shows to check out. 🙂

          That's true.. I feel like that while there might be American shows out there that are lyrical &/or make use of poetry, but I also feel like if they're out there, that they're in the vast minority. In contrast, we do see lyricism and poetry fairly regularly used in kdrama, and that does feel quite refreshing. 🙂


      • PS I would leave likes to many here, but I do not have accounts to do so, and getting another account with another password makes me tired just to think about it.


    • Harry Bosch is a true legend. One of the great characters of fiction and screen!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hey there Sean – I tried to watch this but Titus Welliver looks exactly like someone I have had a negative experience with and I never got past the first few minutes. That being said, I am going to throw aside my initial gut reaction and watch this. If you recommend it I am going to give it another chance. Note that is a rare occurrence that I would watch a Western series. What will help is that it is a detective story and I love these. Ok – here we go!


        • Hello phl, I know exactly what you are saying re a negative experience. TW is one of those rare actors that gets to play a once in a lifetime role. Bosch is one of these. It’s like watching the character being lifted straight of the written page. Each season is ten episodes, so it maintains its quality throughout. I hope you can hang in there and enjoy it and thank you for your faith in my recommendations 😂

          Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi there Fangurl – Here is a time when I really wish that I was the kind of writer that you, Sean and Jesse are!

    I predict a lot of responses on this post as for many of us, KDrama holds such a very special place in our hearts. There are many reasons why, beside a few BBC productions, my viewing is solely K and C Dramas.

    There are exceptions to every rule but for the most part here are my reasons for watching. First, KDrama has soul! Western (US) media has lost its soul. Second, in most dramas we clearly see who the bad guy is. This is important to me. Third, love and intimacy are special and KDrama treats these with respect. Fourth, violence in US shows is getting more and more disturbing. I hope and pray that KDramas steer clear of this. I have noticed lately a surge of serial killer dramas which I hope dissipates soon. Fifth, I love the Korean’s view on respecting their ancestors, respecting their elders and the usage of the phrase “You must have saved the country in your previous life”. I just love this saying. Sixth, I love the way the family is portrayed and how beautiful some of the family dramas are.

    In short KDramas are a veritable feast for the soul and I will never get tired of this soul food! And speaking of food, the introduction of Korean, Thai and Chinese dishes to my family’s table has broadened our horizons. It has also allowed us to learn more about Korean and Chinese history, language and culture. It is a win-win!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Aw, thank you for your kind words, phl, but you’re not impaired in expressing yourself at all, my dear! 😀 I loved your sharing and observations, and that’s a great way of putting it: kdramas have soul. ❤ They do indeed, by and large, and that respect for love and intimacy, and relationships, and elders, all play a part as well. 🙂 Like you, I'm not really into violence as an element in a show. I'm ok with it if it's a necessary part of the story, but once the violence starts to strike me as try-hard, and gratuitous, I just have no interest to continue. 😅 AND yes, the influence of the food is unmistakable!! So glad you and your family's been able to have fun with the food! 😀 Since the k-wave hit Singapore, Korean food has been everywhere!!! Not just restaurants, but food courts also tend to have a Korean stall, and you can easily get kimchi and fresh Korean produce at regular (non-Korean) supermarkets. So our tummies definitely get to feast! 😋😋

      Liked by 1 person

  15. What a great post. The frustration is real that no one in my life gets it. I started watching about 8 yrs ago. got hooked immediately doing the “just 1 more episode…” til 3 in the morning thing. At that time I could share my fatigue at work with a few coworkers who had also stayed up til dawn watching something. They left and I took a years long break. But for the past 2 1/2 yrs I have watched Kdramas and a few Taiwanese dramas exclusively.

    I have thought alot about why. I agree with all your points. The number one factor for me is something I didn’t even know had a name until I read the book The Power Of Nunchi by Euny Hong. Nunchi, that Korean manifestation of emotional intelligence that is at the heart of all the unspoken communication between characters: the “mind reading”, the glances, the held togues, the reluctance to barge in on someone having an emotional moment… all the subtle factors that drive storylines in kdramas. It is beyond fascinating!

    Another thing I find fascinating is the seeming contradiction of a very masculine culture being so okay with men who cry. Never have I seen male characters portrayed with such a wide range of emotions. Yes there is anger and bravado, arrogance and stubbornness but the same characters also show grief and sadness and longing, shame, loneliness, courage, appreciation. sensitivity, and on and on. I think these other emotions can take center stage because the Confiucian ideal of reining in your lust makes space in a way western drama can’t.

    These cultural qualities had me so intrigued I began watching variety shows. Shows like Master in the House and Let’s eat together and Life bar .. bring out another social phenomenon I find fascinating: the seeming paradox of a society that values saving face AND baring their souls publicly. I am astounded by the emotional honesty people on variety shows display.

    These elements of character driven storylines, combined with a relatively small pool of actors that allows viewers to watch the artistic development of favorite actors over a short amount of time, plus the opportunities to see actors in a range if variety shows to get their backstory has created an endless rabbit hole this avowedly non-starstruck viewer has no desire to get out of!

    I never would have imagined myself in this place. I so appreciate your excellent critiques of shows because it is a depth of analysis I cannot do alone. It brings me commraderie in my delightful, but solitary, pastime.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi there Erin! Glad you enjoyed this post! 😀 And that’s a great point!! You’re so right, that we get to see very macho men crying unabashedly in dramas.. Jang Hyuk in Chuno comes to mind, for me, because I was completely mesmerized by how fierce Dae Gil was, and there never was any question of his fierceness – which often bordered on arrogance – or his manliness, even when he cried like this:

      That’s quite unique indeed, thanks for pointing it out! 😀

      And yes, nunchi (literally, eye power) is a thing, and to have the narrative not only acknowledge that, but take us as viewers on a journey where we can observe and appreciate it, definitely adds richness to the narrative. Thanks for bringing it up!! 😀

      It’s rather disappointing that you don’t currently have friends in real life to share your drama passion with, but WE’RE here for ya! ❤ You're not alone! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  16. As an Asian woman, one of the main reasons (personally) is that it is closer to home. The culture while may differ in some aspect is not far from where I grew up with. I love certain western dramas to death I do, but I never fully relate to most of it. For the sake of comparison, I noticed most western shows depict very realistic narratives, and we don’t need that most of the time, we love our fictions and fantasies lol. This is not to say that korean dramas are all about JUST that. Having been a kdrama fan since god-knows-when, I’ve seen brave and outta box dramas and they did not disappoint. Sure, there are familiar patterns with korean dramas, but it’s one of its charms. You know how it’s gonna be played out but there’s no way to tell how emotionally you’ll be swept.

    Liked by 5 people

    • That’s a great point, waada! 😀 Thanks for bringing that up! I had gone into this post thinking only of viewers from the West, who prefer kdramas to Western show, and completely forgot to include the very large sector of Asian fans (myself included, d’uh!!) where we prefer kdramas because it’s closer to home. My bad, truly. 😝😝 Happily, you’re here to make sure this point didn’t get missed out! 😅


    • What is interesting for me often is how different K Dramas are than Western dramas, although cop and hospital shows, family and teen life are probably staples around the world. For me the differences often cast a light on both cultures by their contrast. The depiction of women for example. The best women characters are always strong, independent, smart, and so on. But the society itself is utterly stacked against them in ways we in the West would consider anachronistic. And gender roles also similarly circumscribed, while the depiction of characters breaking through those limits or the tragedies of those mired in them brings the issue of gender far more to the forefront of K Drama than it often is in western drama in which those issues tend to default in cliche.

      And then there is this, I simply cannot imagine a western drama presenting North Korean people in such a human, sometimes sympathetic manner, as one can see in K Drama, most vividly presented recently in Crash Landing.


  17. “ … 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.”

    This was me exactly 7 years ago when I discovered KDramas. I was already disillusioned with Western television 2 years prior for reasons KFangirl listed. I was getting tired of attaching myself to shows that abruptly had the rug pulled out from under them. All of the long-term shows I’d loved had come to an end. And at that time, Western TV had hit this terrible glut of reality shows, which I can’t stand. First, I attached myself to the retro Western shows I loved and missed growing up and watched a lot of those with fresh adult eyes.

    I love the KDrama short story format from beginning to end. I also love the slow relationship build-up despite the short length, and the clean focus on the character’s journey. Thought Kfangurl will tell you, I enjoy more natural closeness, hugs, and all around closeness than the 10 hour buildup to hand-holding. And don’t get me started on the standing 6 feet apart. Kdramas were “social distancing” before it was mandatory.

    I appreciate the higher moral standards applied to Dramas. They’re like watching beloved shows from the 80s and 90s. Watching Dramas is probably as close to Korea as I’ll ever get so I enjoy learning all the aspects of the culture, from language, to fashion to food and table manners. 

 I have never been more giggly and attracted to TV stars than I have been in KDramas! They’re beautiful, (Yes, “work” done or not) and we get to see our favorites in a variety of roles and character types, sometimes up to 3 times a year! I’ve had instances where I didn’t care much for an actor’s performances, but then saw them in a different role, and light, and suddenly they click with me and I became a big fan.

    The super variety of genres really attracts me, there’s something to watch for every mood. I’m not a huge rom-com person, it depends. The fact that crime/mystery dramas are killing it (pun intended) right now thrills me. But I have to agree with a comment above that the violence has increased a little too much.

    I find KDramas to be reliable best friends. I’ve gone through my ups and downs where I don’t watch at all. This time, the fix of switching Drama countries, which I usually recommend, hasn’t worked. I’m currently in a long period of “down” that’s hard to shake. It could be with all that’s going on the world and some personal issues that I lost the motivation or brain power to concentrate. I’m finding it hard to relate to a bubbly cute fantasy world while the real one is full of fear, and illness. I can still watch the crime dramas, but I’ve also developed severe “Internet brain,” and I can’t focus on one episode when I used to watch 3-4 in a row sometimes! I used to watch multiple dramas at the same time too. I could blame age creeping up on me, but I mainly think it’s Internet Brain and I’m working to fix it.

    We get so used to being handed little bits and chunks of information all day, every day, or getting distracted by Social Media and this and that shiny new app that our full attention spans get shot to pieces. It takes a lot of energy to watch a drama to get invested in the story and make sense of it through reading subtitles.

    My TV and Roku have been collecting dust, but I want to deep dive in again. I really miss the Asian dramas.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Hi Lady G 🙂

      I don’t think you have a case of internet brain 🙂
      Last year I had a 9 months slump in which I didn’t watch any shows wether western nor kdrama. That happens sometimes. And I had this big break after 3 years and you have been around for 7 years so of course you will feel like this from time to time.

      I feel like we need that bubbly cute fantasy world especially because the real one sucks.

      For example: When you think about it. The romance in dramas is pretty much unbelievable, right? Let me tell you something funny I am that kind of romantic guy. There is just one problem… girls these days love it when they see it in movies and dramas. But in real life when you act like that towards them they don’t like it which is weird but we are talking about women after all :DDD It is always like this we want it but we also don’t at the same time. Took me a while to get over that fact. I wanted to turn this fake bubbly world into the real world but it didn’t work.

      What I mean is somethimes you need a break but at some point you will get hooked on a show again no matter the distractions and discrepancies between the fake and the real world.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi larius247, I hope it’s not the dreaded Internet Brain! But maybe it’s more like Youtube brain. I watch tons of short videos and movies on there where most of the content isn’t longer than an hour. lol

        You’re right about the drama slumps, I’ve gone through a few in my seven years, this is my longest one yet. And I agree, we do need escapism right now. Once I get back to it, they may be just what the Doctor ordered.

        And it’s so nice you’re a romantic guy! I feel for you guys getting mixed signals. In some cases, it seems hypocritical. Some women are never happy even when they get what they desire, perhaps because they have an idealized vision of a perfect partner. When reality settles in, though, they don’t like it. The same goes for men too. I’ve seen both sides, but I’m no expert. I do know, however, that relationships take work and compromise and a lot of putting up with one another and covering over faults with love.

        But in this case, I think if you’re not a Korean hottie, but you’re acting like a Kdrama boyfriend, then the illusion may be shattered for them. I believe Western girls who love Kdramas can’t fully imagine or just don’t expect their Western partners to act in that way, so it throws them off. But then again, I’ve heard of Korean guys trying to impress by following dramas, and it doesn’t work for them either! Sigh. These are just my impressions. Relationships can be so complicated even though they shouldn’t be.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Okay the youtube brain sounds logical. I probably have that too 😀

          Yes you might be right about “they have an idealized vision of a perfect partner”. Here in germany it is usually the tall, broad sholdered bad boy :DD Haven’t met a girl yet with a different ideal type.

          “The same goes for men too” – These days you can’t even take most guys seriously with what they want and expect.

          “…that relationships take work and compromise and a lot of putting up with one another and covering over faults with love.” – preach it ^^ But these days it is hard to find people who want to work on such things. Usually people break up after one little fight, etc…

          In summary: people are weird, the world is weird, we are not korean hotties and everthing is complicated these days. And that is why we need kdramas.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Agreed, we need them. For me personally these days, I’m content just watching the romance play out on my screen. The day that doesn’t give me the feels is the day I’ve lost my heart. But I haven’t lost it. I’m still crying at the littlest scenes. lol.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Tee hee. I giggled at what you said about kdramas promoting social distancing even before it was a thing. 😆😆 Very true! It’s all part of the message of pure and innocent love that many dramas want to project. Also, I wanted to say that you’re not alone in not feeling up to watching dramas because of the state of the world. I’ve seen similar comments on Twitter, where people said that they just didn’t have the heart for it, and were envious of folks who could still watch dramas. Maybe a mini drama might be a better place to start? Those with short episodes and just a handful of episodes might feel like a more manageable commitment than a full-on drama? 🙂 I thought J-drama A Sharply Graceful Girl was nice and short, with eps clocking in at just half an hour each. Maybe a possible place to start? 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks for the suggestions. That’s a good idea. I went on Viki last night and started adding new stuff to my playlist, but I’m looking and a lot of it doesn’t appeal to me at all. Maybe because they all seemed focus on this quirky romantic genre? It’s like where have I been? Who are these people? All the familiar faces we’ve seen are not there (except Jang Hyuk, and maybe 1 or 2 more.) It’s all young fresh faces I don’t trust yet. haha.
        I did manage to watch 1 episode of Tell me What you saw? I didn’t drop it, I just dropped dramas all together. Now I’m geared up to finish it by the weekend because I think it’s really good. After that I will go for something lighter.


  18. Your number one for me is the very fundamental point of what attracts me to kdrama.

    Having an definite start and end point is a definite plus. The length is also just right. Its significantly longer than a movie so that you can explore the story further and grow more attachment to the characters. You dont get drag into multi seasons (years!) commitment to get to the end of the story. 12 to 16 episodes hit the right spot for me. I find it harder to get into 50+ episodes hence why I don’t check out cdrama much. Jdrama and Tdrama fit the criteria and i do check them out once and a while, but i just don’t have much access to them.

    Beyond the definite start and ending tho, i think this type of format really foster kdrama industry to be rich and diverse. A successful actor/writer/director get more options to hone their skills and try different things in relatively short span of time. In successful western tv, the actor will have to act the same character years after years. Kelsey Grammer played Frasier for 20years! One of my fave thing in kdrama is checking out new things from my fave actors/ writers/ directors, and theres always something new. This i never get to do with western tv.

    I also find korean actors quality to be top notch, even the kids actors. There’s a lot of focus on facial expressions, maybe because it really wants to highlight human relationship that you mentioned? For example, crying is taken into a whole different in kdrama. Theres the full on wailing body shaking type, the single teardrop sneaking in, the eyes brimming with tears… all in full closeup. And my gosh do these actors cry well…

    The cinematography style is also different. There’s a lot of focus in dreamy beautiful shot while western drama is more realistic. It does annoy me that blood, dirts and wounds on people rarely look real. But the shot… the sceneries… the beautiful couples… it just making it easier to transport you into lalaland.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Hi Yoona!!! That’s such an excellent point, that this shorter format allows not just the actors, but the writers and directors as well, to try their hand at different genres and stories, to challenge themselves and expand their experience and skills!! 😀 (It blows my mind that Kelsey Grammer played the same role for 20 years!! Wow. 😳🤯) With kdramas being structured the way they are, even if an actor signs on to a long daily or family drama, that commitment is only up to a year, and then afterwards, the actor is able to try out other roles and other challenges. Great for the actors AND for us as an audience! 😀

      And YES, the actors really do cry well, don’t they? The control is really excellent, and even in an industry where good crying seems like a pre-requisite, there are still actors that blow me away with the fineness of the control that they have, over their micro-expressions. 😀


  19. When I was growing up, the TV in my country showed mostly miniseries – French, Italian, Russian, British, Australian, Latin American etc. Many of these were TV versions of classic or popular books. The shows were either dubbed or subtitled. I preferred subtitles, because I liked listening to unfamiliar languages and picking up words and expressions. Even live action shows for children followed the miniseries format. I still have fond memories of Czech and Polish children’s shows, full of humor, magic, and adventure. In short, I was unfamiliar with the episodic format popular in US shows.

    In my late teens and college years, many US shows found their way in my country. I liked the acting and the high production values, but thought that the storytelling was kind of lame. I did not like that every episode was independent and there was not a big story to tell. Since then, many American shows have embraced the more serialized approach to storytelling, and some of these shows are among my favorites, like Lost or Better Call Saul. I agree that US shows don’t have romance as a central theme, and that’s a shame!

    So when I discovered kdramas, I thought I was in TV heaven! I like the length, it is perfect for telling a longer story without missing on the details. Each episode is like a chapter from a book. I love the cliffhangers, because they make me want to see more. And I know that I am going to get an ending. Whether kdrama endings are always satisfying is a topic for another Dear Kfangurl post.

    Lastly, eye candy is not something to be ignored. But I have to say that I have been seriously impressed by the quality of acting in kdramas.

    I totally agree with everything you said, Kfangurl! I am very happy that kdramas exist and that there are many people around the world who enjoy them.

    Liked by 5 people

    • That’s a great analogy, Snow Flower! 😀 The episodes really do function like different chapters in the same book! 😀 And yes, I do sincerely appreciate that kdrama writers compose each episode with a view of the cliffhanger in mind. I know they sometimes go overboard and cut out too many chunks of plot in order to give us the cliffhanger, and then spend too much time filling in the blanks the following episode, but overall, I still like that more than what I’ve observed in many C-dramas, where the episode stops when the time is up, never mind if we’re in the middle of a random scene. I understand that this is probably due to China’s habit of screening a bunch of eps back-to-back (up to 4 eps a night, sometimes, I think?) and so issue of the lack of a proper cliffhanger is made moot. As someone who tends to watch single episodes of a show a day, I do appreciate a good cliffhanger! 😉


    • What is your country?
      I think you might like Treme.


  20. This is a nice one to think about, especially since only being into the kdrama scene for about 8 months myself. Addicted now though…

    It started for me with discovering Man to Man on Netflix; it sounded interesting and I wanted to try our something else. I remember liking it very much and followed it up with What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim and The Master’s Sun. Things are blurry after that, especially after discovering this blog; so much to choose from…
    For me the looks of the leads never played that big a role really (probably a male thing), it was the overall story and the character interaction, the red thread.
    I can enjoy a romance just fine but it’s not a must per se and I do like that kdrama takes the time for the overall story.
    By now I’ve watched a lot of them and I do admit sometimes looking up an actor/actress to see what else they played in, but more for the fact of hoping to enjoy their characters as much as I did in another series. The other reasons you mentioned do factor in though.

    I still enjoy western series (action, thriller, fantasy, sci-fi, for example), but my heart is big enough to give kdrama a place also.
    Delved more into Chinese and Japanese drama also due to this. Found some good ones, but, I noticed I prefer more Japanese than Chinese drama.

    Every drama has its tropes of course (still not like the ever present love triangles in kdrama that much if I’m honest; a good romance build up story without annoying rivals is nice at times), but I like that in general the characters and the story in Japanese drama is more down to earth/relatable for me while still capable of packing a punch. Chinese drama’s tend to be more fluffy, also, the fact that everyone goes to bed with full make-up on, it’s just… Kind of refreshing to not see this then in for example The Wonder Woman, which I’m enjoying currently.
    Anyway, going off-topic now…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Rokuro, a belated welcome to the weird and wonderful world of dramas! 😀 8 months in and totally addicted eh? I know that feeling well! 😀

      Thanks for sharing your experience, it’s true that the best dramas tell a great story, regardless of whether there’s romance, and I fully admit that sometimes, a story is better served without the romance, which can then feel shoe-horned in just for the sake of it. So I found it quite refreshing that Stove League chose not to include any lovelines, and it worked out so nicely; Show was an uplifting and engaging watch, that felt solidly conceived and written. If you haven’t seen it, I hope you’ll consider adding it to your list! 🙂

      And I agree, I’m not big on the love triangles myself.. Did you watch Be Melodramatic? Love triangles didn’t feature strongly, if at all, I think, and I found it a fun, quirky and refreshing watch. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  21. I had a great read on this one 🙂
    I think the points on why people like kdramas are endless.
    But I have to agree with pretty much everything you said. It is a lot faster, more feely touchy stuff and of course the pretty leads :DDD I guess your list of hot dudes is also endless ^^

    “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.” – You may be right about that but I feel like the sexy parts also slowly increase in Kdramas and I have to say I see more violence in kdramas than in western shows at least that is my experince from what I watched.

    For me its like this. If I want to watch romance/comedy/melo or anything remotely with feelings I prefer Kdramas but if I want to see action/fantasy or a thriller I prefer western shows. I don’t know maybe because it looks better because of the insane high budgets compared to dramas but I am not even sure.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Larius!! 😀 Glad you enjoyed the post, and yes, my list of hot dudes is.. sizable, heh. 😅 That’s a great point, that the budgets tend to be much bigger on Western shows, and therefore, the action sequences are probably much more intricate and on a much grander scale than what kdramas are able to achieve on average. And I haven’t watched Western shows in a long time, so I don’t know what the scene is really like over there, but I do think you’re right that kdramas have been serving up more violence of late, especially shows on OCN. Still, I do think one of the foundational hallmarks of kdramas, which is unlikely to change, is the romance. It’s such a big part of kdramas, that they include it even in shows where a romance isn’t needed (I don’t like that they do that, but it does show how big romance is, on the collective k-consciousness! 😅)

      Liked by 2 people

      • I especially think OCN has a lot of those shows.. rugal or kill it or mr. temporary for example. Just to name some of that channel ^^

        Yes you are right no matter what show you watch you usually can be certain that at least the romance part is well done.
        I never dropped a show because the romance was bad. It is usually other reasons. They just portray it in such a nice and beautiful way compared to western shows.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hehe.. yes, OCN does seem to specialize in the dark, gritty – and therefore more violent – shows. I admittedly have only watched a handful of OCN dramas because that’s not my usual cup of drama tea. But I did like Bad Guys a lot, so there’s always the exception! 😀

          Oh, have you tried out Go Back Couple yet? I remember you were considering it! 🙂


          • I watched the first episode of go back couple and I think it is not my kind of humor and the storyline so far is kinda meeeh but I will give a few more episodes a chance.

            My recommendation for you is: Once again it has 100 episodes and so far i think 38 aired it is really fun 🙂


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