Dear kfangurl: How do you choose which dramas to watch?

Might I spy with my little eye.. a drama that’s worth watching..?

Beez writes:

Dear Kfangurl,

I need help! I know my K-bloom isn’t totally off the rose but I feel as if it’s hanging on by only a couple of wilting petals. I’m not tired of Kdramas but I find I can’t easily decide what to watch these days. At this stage in the game, where my biases (actors that I watched in ANYthing they starred in next) are getting older so filling less leading roles, I find myself with less that I’m interested in watching unless the synopsis snags me with a unique subject matter or hobby or career/lifestyle that I’m interested in. So how do you (I’ve noticed you’ve become more selective) choose the shows that are worth your busy time?

For example, I see you reviewed My Unfamiliar Family. I haven’t read your review yet because 1) I never read reviews of shows I have no intention of watching and 2) I never read reviews beforehand of a show I intend to watch. So looking at the synopsis on AsianWiki for My Unfamiliar Family – sounds like a total snoozefest. And I learned to never rely on video teasers as they are totally random and can set me up for disappointment when a teaser is hilarious but the show turns out to be a drama and vice versa. So, how do you decide what’s up next to, not necessarily review, but to watch?

Well. Let’s talk about this over a drink, shall we?

Dear Beez,

I feel your pain. Dramaland’s serving up more dramas than ever before, so there’s so much more to sift through, to get to the shows that are worth watching. And from what you say, this appears to be complicated by the fact that as a drama veteran, you’re feeling a touch of.. fatigue?

In this post, I’m going to share how I pick the dramas to add to my drama plate, as well as what I do, when I find myself in a potential drama rut.

Everyone, if you have other ideas, experiences or insights to share, please tell us about it in the comments! Sharing really is caring. 🥰

MY PERSONAL TIPS

The litmus test

Whenever I feel a drama rut coming on, I always wonder if it’s me, or Dramaland at large. Like, have I really fallen out of love with dramas, or are the currently airing dramas just not working for me, y’know?

I put on an episode of a show that I know I love, like Coffee Prince, or Healer, not to watch it, necessarily, but just to see if I still feel the drama feels. Gotta check if my internal equipment’s working, heh.

So far, I’ve always concluded that my internal equipment’s just fine (I get sucked into my old faves within a minute or two, usually), and then I know that I do still love dramas – PHEW. 😅 I just need to find the right one, is all.

Know your Stage

In my post about my evolution as a drama viewer, I concluded that I pretty much live in Stage 3, where I don’t blindly inhale anything and everything just because “Oppa” is in it.

I’ve come to the realization that the most important thing to me, when watching a drama, is the writing. If the writing sucks, no amount of Melty Oppa can make up for it. Worse, enduring a show that I dislike can drain me of Oppa Loyalty.

Exhibit A: While I was in Stage 2, I happily endured Heirs for the love of Kim Woo Bin. I thought Show was really bad, but I was a happy fangirl.

Exhibit B: After I’d moved on to Stage 3, I attempted to endure Uncontrollably Fond, also for the love of Kim Woo Bin. That endeavor was awful and painful, and I found myself approaching each new episode with a new level of dread. I ended up dropping the show pretty late in the game. But it was too late, coz Show had drained me of almost all of my Woob loyalty. Yikes.

To avoid a similar catastrophe, I now gravitate towards Shows that have a reputation for being well-written, and avoid the ones that are known for being hot messes – even if Oppa is in it. (And this is why I still haven’t watched Tell Me What You Saw, despite my deep affection for Jang Hyuk.)

So I say, know your Stage, and navigate accordingly. What do you like about the shows you like? The writing? Execution? Music? OTP chemistry? The more you understand your own drama tastes, the more successful you’d be, in picking dramas to enjoy.

Keep your ear to the ground

The next question is, how do I know what kind of reputation a show is making for itself, as it airs?

Ratings really don’t tell us anything except for what Korean TV audiences seem to be in the mood for, and often, what Korean TV audiences are in the mood for, doesn’t have anything to do with what I would enjoy on my screen. Case in point: Healer received low ratings in Korea, but international audiences mostly love the show. Imagine not watching Healer, just because it got low ratings – the horror. 😱

My drama spidey senses are fed by what I see on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and comments on the blog. If I see lots of people gushing about a particular show, that’s when I sit up and take notice, and start to evaluate whether this might be a show for me, too.

As an example, I was going to give Mystic Pop-up Bar a miss because it just didn’t sound that interesting to me, but because several of you spoke so enthusiastically about the show in your conversations on the blog, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. And so I checked it out despite my initial lack of interest, and ended up enjoying it very much.

..Which brings me to my next point.

Know your taste – but keep an open mind

It’s important to know what you like and don’t like, but it’s important to also keep an open mind.

In my head, this extends to both genre and actor.

Genre

For example, I generally like rom-coms, melodramas and slice-of-life stuff. And I generally avoid medical shows, sports, politics and revenge stories, either from a natural lack of interest (politics), or from having been disappointed by attempts to watch those genres in the past (medical, sports, revenge stories).

Yet, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Hospital Playlist (medical), Stove League (sports), Designated Survivor: 60 Days (politics), and Money Flower (revenge), all by keeping my ear to the ground and following the positive buzz, as well as keeping an open mind and making exceptions, even though I didn’t naturally gravitate towards these genres.

Actor

In terms of actors, there are certain actors and actresses that I mostly feel underwhelmed by, and therefore, when I hear that they are headlining a particular drama, that actually reduces my interest in the show rather than increase it. But I’ve found that sometimes, it’s worth it to make an exception.

For example, I’d actually felt quite underwhelmed by Lee Bo Young as an actress for years, after seeing her for the first time in 2005’s Save Your Last Dance For Me. It wasn’t until I’d heard so many good things about My Daughter Seo Young that I decided to give it a try, and in the end, that’s the show that completely changed my mind about Lee Bo Young as an actress. I now think she’s great.

Similar thing with Nam Goong Min, whom I’d felt quite meh towards for years. He’d always struck me as very vanilla and uninteresting, and I often felt like I was just watching him play different variations of the same character. And then, when everyone fell in love with him for playing villains and zany characters, I didn’t manage to get on that bandwagon either. *cue sad music as I twiddle my thumbs in the corner all by my lonesome self* BUT, I loved him in Stove League, and have now officially gotten over my Nam Goong Min allergy.

Sometimes, there are actors that don’t make a final breakthrough in my head, in terms of their acting abilities, but who manage solid performances in a particular show because the role is suited to their abilities, &/or the PD does a great job guiding their performance. Those are worth making an exception for, too.

For example, I generally don’t care much for Go Ara as an actress in the various roles that I’ve seen her in, but I truly loved her in Answer Me, 1994, and I’m so glad that I didn’t miss out on that show because of my aversion to Go Ara.

Yay for making exceptions!

Caveat

As a caveat, though, I just wanted to say that it’s still helpful to know what’s a hard pass for you. For example, even though I like to keep an open mind, I know that horror is really not my thing, and that stories about cults aren’t my thing either. And because I know that forcing myself to watch those shows would make me miserable &/or affect the quality of my sleep, I simply don’t watch ’em, even if people say they’re excellent (like in the case of Kingdom, and Save Me).

Know your friends’ tastes

Since my drama spidey senses are often fed by my friends’ reactions to dramas, I’ve found that it’s really useful to understand my friends’ drama tastes.

If I know a friend’s drama taste is quite similar to my own, then if said friend gushes enthusiastically about a show, I know to sit up and pay serious attention quickly, because there’s a good chance I might like the same show too.

Conversely, if I know a friend’s drama taste is quite different from my own, then if this friend gushes enthusiastically about a drama, I know to take it with a pinch of salt, because, while there’s a chance I might like the show in question, there’s a good chance it wouldn’t work for me as well.

Understanding my friends’ drama tastes – an appreciation which continues to evolve, just as my friends and I continue to evolve – has helped me sift through the spazz, to find the dramas that are more likely to work for me than others.

That said, I’ve also learned that we are all unique, and so even the most similar of drama buddies can and do have polarizing responses to the same show. But, y’know, that’s okay; we can still be friends. ❤️ It’s one of the things that keeps the dramaverse so interesting!

Be sensitive to your mood

There are basically three options, once you get started on a show and have watched enough of it to give you a feel for it: shelve, drop, or continue.

If you’re feeling it enough, it’s a no-brainer to continue. If you hate it, then it makes sense to drop it. But sometimes, the answer is neither.

Sometimes, it’s a mood thing, and you’re just not in the right brain space for a particular kind of show, for right now. I’ve learned from experience that rather than force myself to continue watching something because my brain recognizes that it’s a good show even though my heart’s not feeling it, the better thing to do, is to shelve it for another mood and another time.

Rather than end up frustrated with a show now because it just doesn’t match my mood, it’s a far better thing, I think, to save it for another time and space, where I might just love it yet.

Take a break – sometimes

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and that can be true of our dramas too. Sometimes, when we’re feeling drama fatigued, what we really need is a break from our beloved dramas.

What that break looks like is different for everyone. It could be a deep dive into variety shows, it could be exploring movies, or it could be exploring dramas from other countries. I personally find food videos on YouTube a very nice change of pace from dramas – partly because nobody’s expecting me to write about the food videos that I watch, ha.

What I’ve found is that a break from dramas can do a really good job of making the experience of watching a drama feel fresh and fun again, when I do find my way back to them. My longest break from dramas has tended to be about a month at a time, almost on an annual basis. But yours could be completely different, and that’s perfectly fine.

It’s most important that you follow your heart, so that dramas feel more fun and enjoyable to you.

IN CLOSING

I hope you guys found this glimpse into my drama management methods useful in helping you figure out what might work for you, as you streamline the way you pick your dramas to watch.

As always, if you guys have other tips, perspectives, or insights to share, please tell us about it in the comments! 😊

I hope this helps!

Love! ❤

~kfangurl

Fighting~!

POST-SCRIPT:

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!

237 thoughts on “Dear kfangurl: How do you choose which dramas to watch?

  1. BE

    Reflecting more on this: actors are my big draw, including supporting actors; for example, I really liked Lee Jung Eun in Mr. Sunshine (Haman) and the reason I actually saw Parasite was because she was in it. Alas I have also sat through some of Jang Hyuk’s lesser vehicles as a result. Directors, screen writers, subject matter, word of mouth, serendipity, and I eschew those whose first or second episode I do not like. For example, albeit I know lots of folks like Bridal Mask, I just could not get into it. I tend to be more patient with actors I am interested in, but there are some dramas that hook me in quickly, and after I am ready to see them through. Ensembles that like a good musical group or athletic team seem to just drip with camaraderie. Coffee Prince and Reply 1988 are not my usual genre cup of tea, but both had ensembles that just hummed. It was fun to watch them perform as a result. In that i have not seen half so many as many here have, I tend to still discover solid old ones.

    Reply
    1. msella

      My first post! AHH! lol

      I agree with you, BE.

      (Also, I AM SO EXCITED to have found this site and this thread!)

      I started my KDrama adventures with Rookie Historian as my first one… that was July 2020. I am on my 30th-ish show and just finished Misaeng after seeing the rating from this site. And I LOVED that show.

      I also loved Reply 1988. Started Reply 1997, but it’s not as magical as 1988. Thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Sunshine, btw. And would run it in the background when I’m between shows and looking for the next one to watch.

      2020 was definitely my year of getting into Korean dramas. I find the slow-burn romance arcs and the waiting/patience culture so refreshing and fascinating… I really have a hard time going back to American shows now!

      Cheers,
      MsElla

      Reply
      1. Natalia

        Hey MsElla, welcome! You can find kdrama veterans as well as rookies here. For the latter, as myself, the index/full list of shows is a valuable guide. As is sharing opinions and tips. So, if you liked Rookie Historian, why not try the Tale of Nokdu now? Unless of course you have already seen it. Cheers!

        Reply
  2. merij1

    For those not caught up in full-squee over at the Chuno thread, here’s an insider account of how K-dramas are made, from Kim Hee-yeol, producer of Winter Sonata and head of drama production for Pan Entertainment:

    https://mb.com.ph/2020/11/08/winter-sonata-producer-reveals-how-korean-dramas-are-made-income-of-top-tier-stars/

    I believe this is a summary his remarks during this free Korean/Filipino webinar on how K-drama are written and produced. Did anyone watch it? I’ve asked one of the hosts if a recording will be made available:

    https://www.facebook.com/events/907992096397799/

    Reply
    1. merij1

      Regrettable, they replied that it was a one-time stream with no repeats planned. So sad!

      Anyone here from the Philippines who happened to see it or local write-ups after it aired? It was two full morning of talks by K-drama producers, writers and such.

      Reply
  3. seankfletcher

    For my mind kfangurl, it comes down to whether the synopsis jumps out at me. Which is no different to how I choose a movie or a book. So, I will end up watching all the genres at some point.

    What keeps me engaged is how well the show is written. It can be quite simple or complex. Every now and then we get to see a kdrama where the actors take the material to a whole other level.

    I am finding at the moment there are many shows that have synoptic appeal, but fall away quickly when I start to view them. My dropped rate has edged up from 25% to 30%, so I’m thinking the quality of the writing has “dropped” off at the moment. The pressure to keep churning out material is probably higher than usual too.

    And, like you, I find ratings don’t mean a thing 🤗

    Reply
    1. kfangurl Post author

      We definitely need better written synopses for dramas, I think! I used to do something similar, ie, see whether a synopsis jumped out at me, but over time, I’ve also realized that a good number of dramas that I end up loving, might not have good synopses written for them. Plus, as you mentioned, so much of it has to do with the execution as well. Often, I am drawn in by the synopsis, only to be let down by the execution. 😕 That’s why I’ve also started to put my ear to the ground and listen for feedback from other viewers, to help me make my drama picks. It does help, so my drop rate is diminishing – at least slightly! 😅

      Reply
  4. beez

    Does anybody watch dailies? It’s my first foray into them and I find they often just don’t show episodes on some days. Is that common or is this possibly related to covid 19?

    For example, I’m watching Man in a Veil and they only showed 2 episodes this week.

    I recently finished Mom Has An Affair and it frequently showed 4 instead of 5 episodes a week.

    Reply
    1. seankfletcher

      On average, I watch 2 or 3 dailies at a time. No, something must be going on. Generally, they are shown religiously each day without fail. The great thing about dailies is that you do get to see many of our favourite supporting actors and occasionally some of the bigger names.

      Reply
      1. phl1rxd

        Sean or Beez – Do you have a recommendations on the dailies? I have yet to watch one mostly due to the number of episodes but I would like to try one out,

        Reply
        1. beez

          @phl1rxd – I’ll be watching for Sean’s response myself. So far the only dailies I’ve watched/watching is Mom Has an Affair (finished, and watched only because I have an affection for FL) and I’m currently watching Man in a Veil which is ridiculous but I’m watching to see Female Second Lead get her comeuppance.

          The only other daily that I’ve watched years ago is Smile Donghae aka Smile Again. It was super long but my intense fangirl love for Ji Chang wook… I really enjoyed that one. He had a very good supporting cast. Oh wait! I almost forgot that I watched New Tales of the Gisaeng https://asianwiki.com/New_Tales_of_the_Gisaeng because, besides Sung hoon, it was very interesting to see the gisaeng profession still exists and how it has evolved from how it’s portrayed in saeguks. I must confess that after watching I still don’t have an understanding if prostitution was the main offerings or if it’s as they claim “entertaining conversation and companionship”. I can only say that, of what I know for sure, there are women pouring drinks and then we see characters in other dramas becoming upset when their little sisters are caught having jobs “pouring drinks” for men in bars. _(ツ)_/¯ 

          Reply
          1. kfangurl Post author

            Just jumping in to say that the only daily I have ever watched is Unstoppable High Kick, which had the novelty factor of featuring young Kim Bum, Park Min Young & Jung Il Woo. 🥳

            Reply
            1. beez

              @kfangurl – I didn’t realize Unstoppable… was a daily. I want to watch it because it’s always referenced. Hopefully one day…

              Oh my! Probably not. I just checked and 167 episodes… Unless it can become my next morning coffee show after my current daily.

              Reply
                1. beez

                  I added it to my “dailies” watch list (which I’d forgotten that I’d made). Some of the premises on my list seem pretty interesting, dropping Unstoppable High Kick from being next up in line.

                  Reply
        2. beez

          @phl1rxd – so I was just adding Unstoppable High Kick to my watch list when I discovered that I’d started a list of dailies to check out (excuse my crude notes but I made the list thinking I’d be the only one looking at it):

          [ ] unstoppable high kick – kim bum – daily 167 episodes
          [ ] man in a veil (man 7 years old mentality)
          [ ] A List of Dailies found here https://mydramalist.com/list/Y4aK8j2L
          [ ] wife is a gangster actress – https://mydramalist.com/1232-white-lies
          [ ] I hate You but it’s fine aka Likeable or Not – Monkey Boy; Jo Dong; Plain handsome man https://mydramalist.com/1150-likeable-or-not
          [ ] Princess Aurora 39 mins- fl’s siblings 20 years older than she is https://mydramalist.com/6815-princess-aurora-2013
          [ ] Gangnam Scandal OTP pretend to be in love https://asianwiki.com/Kangnam_Scandal
          [ ] 40 min but has guy I like from Misaeng https://mydramalist.com/1704-sweet-palpitations
          [ ] Be Strong has guy who should’ve done Faith https://mydramalist.com/1072-be-strong-geum-soon
          [ ] Must dress as a business man https://mydramalist.com/8433-one-well-raised-daughter
          [ ] healer’s dad https://mydramalist.com/6051-tv-novel-sam-saeng
          [ ] my son-in-law’s woman https://mydramalist.com/15955-my-son-in-laws-woman
          [ ] Daily saeguk 30 min https://mydramalist.com/6403-hur-jun-the-original-story

          I have lists everywhere. The trick now is to remember that I made a list for something!

          Reply
          1. phl1rxd

            Thank you FG and Beez! 😘😘😘 I am going to watch Unstoppable High Kick.

            I went to the MDL link of dailies and realized I had seen a few of these already. I am presently watching Five Enough and it is great so thanks everyone for the recommendation! !

            So, to be sure, the term ‘dailies’ refers to dramas where episodes are aired on consecutive days (say M-F?) versus being based on number of episodes? Similar to soap operas in the US?

            Beez – thanks for all those links! Sean – I saved your list that you posted a while ago and I see you have Lovers in Bloom listed so I will look at that one as well.

            Reply
            1. beez

              @phl1rxd – I asked Kfangirl that same question a little while ago because I wasn’t sure how to tell if a drama was a weekender or a daily – of course, it’s obvious if you’re catching it while it’s airing. But if you’re watching it after its run… – So now I go on AsianWiki and check the day and time that it ran on. As you say M-F.

              Reply
              1. kfangurl Post author

                If I’m not mistaken, the dailies also have shorter episodes and high episode counts, often upwards of 100 episodes. Family dramas usually hover around the 50 episode mark, with hour-long episodes. It might work out to similar amounts of screen time, but I do think that the different split influences story rhythm. 🙂

                Reply
  5. BE

    I will keep your situ in mind beez. and I will be more than glad to spell out what I mean anytime you ask. Do ask. Thanks for letting me know.

    Reply
    1. beez

      @BE – Thanks. You guys are all so gracious. 🙂
      Not everyone is so kind. I actually had to leave the Park Hyo shin ❤ fan page on Facebook because one of the administrators (can you believe it?) there actually got angry with me for asking the same question twice. I didn’t remember asking nor her answering. And it wasn’t even a question about the rules. It was a random squee-type question about something she said about PHS in the Korean language. So I asked (apparently again). She jumped all over me and said I was lazy (or something along those lines). And when I apologized and explained my short-term memory due to illness situation, she got even angrier saying I was trying to make her out to be the bad guy. SMH

      Had she just been another commenter, I would not have left. But since it was her FB page, despite other commenters sending me DMs asking me to stay – the fact that they didn’t feel free to say so on the forum but had to privately message me – tells you they didn’t feel free to say it openly. Oh well. I don’t do FB anyway other than to see pictures of close family. I don’t even let anyone else know my FB identity. I would just peek on there to see news of PHS and Jang Hyuk every once in a great while anyway and I still do that. I just don’t comment on the PHS page any more.

      Reply
      1. BE

        My final year teaching college English, there were moments in class lecture in which I would draw complete blanks about material I had taught, oh 5 times per semester, two semesters plus summer, for close to twenty five years. My only saving grace is that because I am such a big reader I have a large vocabulary and would manage to pull synonyms out of outer space to cover myself.

        Insofar as names goes, for that whole time, I made it a point of memorizing all my students’ names by the second day of class, so I could get all their attention. Since I quit ten years ago, I cannot remember a name to save my life.

        If it is not one thing, it’s another–getting old is humbling.

        Reply
        1. beez

          @BE – yass. The memory thing is so frustrating. I used to be known as Ms. Verbatim because I never forgot anything. I could read something once and never had to study. Now I can’t handle two thoughts at a time. If a scene makes me think (about anything) – then somehow my brain stops registering what’s still playing out on the screen in front of my eyes and I have to rewind.

          I feel like everybody’s passing me by in Kdrama. I can’t keep up. I mean, I’m home all day and you would think I could binge through but I’m barely watching 2 shows and only 1 episode of each show a day. And one of this is only 30 minutes long.😕

          Reply
          1. merij1

            feel like everybody’s passing me by in Kdrama

            Gosh, if I’d known it was a race I’d have been putting in more effort!

            Reply
            1. beez

              @merij1 – nahhhh. Not a race. But I’m frustrated that I can’t watch as many episodes as you guys, or as much as I used to because of needing to backtrack all the time and also review older stuff so I don’t lose it completely. Otherwise, what was the point of watching in the first place?

              Reply
          2. BE

            Yeah, I was a guy who could work 80 hours a week–mental labor, when I was young I could do physical labor sunup to sunset, picking them up and laying them down. First my concentration went, though lucky me I still have places in my mind–story, imagery really stick for me, that function well, but since my back finally gave out a couple months back I tend to have a 45 minute physical work ceiling. I try not to think about it. Lately, I have been taking walks and photographs, especially abstract compositions. And watching serials, some from S. Korea. I am not quite as obsessed as folks here are, and I like such from all over the world. Soon I should go back to my poetry, but I sort of burned out on that for a while, having taken on the pandemic during the first six months of it till it was just too hard to keep my eyes, my heart, my mind wide open to it. I do my best to accept my limitations, and be grateful for the little things every day. Right now I am watching Reply 1988, and looking to connect with at most one more. I do tend to run through those I really like, and re see those I really liked as well. I remember Mr. Sunshine so vividly because I have watched it several times.

            Reply
              1. BE

                Another phenomenon of aging. My own spiritual path has never really been much about the concepts so many religious people I know have. Blessed as I have been, graced at times, I have never really taken those experiences personally. Like any gifts an individual has and as life goes on cultivates, I probably have taken all that for granted. Too I have borne my share of curses, yuk. But nowadays when people send blessings my way, when I know they are not just mouthing words like have a nice day or even have a blessed day, but when the sentiment comes at me with sincerity, I am very much comforted by it. I need all that I can accrue of such sentiments. Thanks.

                Reply
        2. merij1

          I’m pulling the wrong word a lot lately. Like “flashlight” instead of “toothbrush.” And I don’t realize it, even after saying/writing it. Someone else points it out.

          My dad and his two sisters had Alzheimer’s, as did my mom’s mom. So I figure it has to be the beginnings of that. Sigh.

          I’m always learning new info and skills, so I suspect that masks the damage a bit. New neuron paths to sidestep the holes.

          Reply
          1. phl1rxd

            This. Thread.

            I feel so much better now! I am def with the right tribe! And some days I will remember an address from the early 80s that I had many deliveries for. I even remember their dog’s name. Go figure!

            Reply
              1. BE

                Midnight, Returning Home

                Midnight, returning home, I
                evade tigers. Hills dark, folks
                safe asleep in their houses.
                Look north, the Dippers hang low;
                the river meanders. Look
                up, I recognize Saturn*
                fit and brilliant above. I
                hold in my hand a candle,
                annoyed by the wick a-blur
                in two. Deaf in one ear, I
                listen intent for gibbons
                howling in the gorge and hear:
                only one cries out. Old and grey,
                I dance and sing; leaning on
                my cane, I refuse to go
                in to sleep. But what of it?

                Tu Fu 767 AD
                (Imitation, based on the William Hung translation*)

                William Hung’s biography and accompanying collection of prose translations of Tu Fu remains the gold standard with regard to China’s most historically renown poet. In the Hung translation, Venus, not Saturn, is the planet the poet recognizes; however, Venus does not ever appear directly overhead at midnight or any other time of night. All the planet names in Chinese are compound words made of an element, such as metal, jin, and planet, xing–jinxing, metal planet, being Venus (“j” in Chinese is pronounced with a soft j sound, and “x” as sh; thus, Tu Fu, whose poetry was filled with musical virtuosity, might well have taken poetic license for the musical quality of the word. Similarly, then, supposing the planet had to have been either Saturn or Jupiter, I took the license there for the double entendre of its allusion.) Hung avers that the tigers may have been bullies Tu Fu met on the road, or perhaps, as he might have been returning home from a night of drinking, a habit of his, they might have been a drunken hallucination, which might also explain why he sees his candle with double vision. However, I see no reason to think it either a metaphor or a hallucination, having read a poem by a contemporary, Meng Chiao, who while traveling hears a tiger and describes his traveler’s heart as a flag in a high wind. And Tu Fu complains of his eyesight as well elsewhere. Read literally, so understated as it is, is fine by me, “what of it”?

                Reply
  6. merij1

    We just saw the first episode of Melo Is My Nature (AKA Be Melodramatic).

    Whoa. It’s really, really good.

    Reply
    1. j3ffc

      merij1, so glad you are watching this. It may be my favorite drama of all time, certainly top few. It’s smart with heart. I still listen to the OST. Will be interested to hear what you think as you progress. Enjoy…

      Reply
      1. merij1

        KFG had recommended it to us as a show that address how K-dramas are made — since the characters all work in that field — but I hadn’t heard much buzz about it and the name misled me to think it actually was a melo.

        So far, it’s the opposite of what I dislike in many of these shows. Like My Mister, this one is targeted to adult viewers.

        Instead of pandering to the audience — for example by showing flashback after flashback to clumsily ensure you make the connection to why the thing that just happened is important — this show requires careful attention. We’ve seen two episodes now and had to rewind quite often to make sure we understood.

        For example, you’ll see one of the three FLs from the visual POV of her BF, sitting across a restaurant table. She proposes they break up. Then it cuts away and back and she talks about it some more. Then again. It’s a little confusing though, because now it sounds like he’s the one proposing they break up. It’s only the fourth time that you notice that she was wearing different clothes each take and that these conversations took place over many weeks or maybe months.

        Ditto for all kinds of other things where you aren’t sure what is going on until surprising clues appear late in the scene or not until the next scene. Very interesting script writing. Very European, I would say, though I am no expert on that.

        (Beez, sorry to say, but this is probably not one for you, unless you’re prepared to take notes or rewatch episodes multiple times. It’s a little confusing, even for someone like me with great ST memory.)

        Reply
      2. merij1

        It’s also quite amusing, if you have any taste for quirky humor.

        Which is interesting, since there’s some heavy life themes seamlessly mixed in with the humor.

        Reply
        1. j3ffc

          I’m so glad that that opening sequence gave you pause, as I thought I was the only one that was confused at that stage of the drama! For that reason alone, it’s one of the few K-dramas that I’d consider re-watching, just because I would have better understanding the second time around.

          I also enjoyed the humor, quite a lot. I became quite the fan of the “nutritionist” whenever she appeared. (In the day, we’d have called her a “lunch lady” even thought she doesn’t really fit the stereotype….:-) And there is one sequence in the drama that just has to be seen to be believed….

          Enjoy.

          Reply
      1. merij1

        Humming it, yes! I haven’t learned the words in Korean. Very catchy and not at all annoying, in part because of the joke that they introduce it as a song the female protagonist thinks is super lame. I smile every time it comes on.

        We’re on episode 12. I can’t say too many good things about this show. It’s a breath of fresh air.

        Reply
          1. merij1

            “Melo Is My Nature” is indeed a line one of the characters says (about himself). But this show is most definitely not a melo, at least not in the usual use of the term.

            Reply
  7. merij1

    From Natalia’s comment to Beez, Snow Flower and BE:

    do you ever wonder whether Korean culture as we see it in dramas is the real thing?

    Yes, all the time!

    It’s used to be an issue for Americans as well, where people elsewhere assumed we were all as rich and white-bread as the characters in our TV shows.

    With K-drama, I have to reign myself in from extrapolating based on the tropes and other go-to tricks the writers use to meet certain goals peculiar to TV broadcasting.

    I think it was Georgia Peach who said she’d visited SK a few years ago and found it very much like the shows.

    Reply
    1. BE

      I really have a hard time imagining the amount of alcohol consumption among working people, especially those with office jobs. I mean, how do folks over, say, thirty get up the next morning and go back to work.

      I am not a city person, so despite liking dramas set in Seoul, not that interested, but the shows do make me want to go the mountains and seashore there. And as a student of Buddhism, it would be interesting to visit temples to see how it is practiced in reality there.

      And the food, all that banchan, looks wonderful, everyone dropping bits of delicious in each other’s plates, even pouring other people shots (and turning one’s head sideways to drink one down), that at least looks quite fetching.

      Reply
      1. merij1

        Yes, that one stands out to us every time. Do they really drink that much, that often?

        We’ve also noticed that SK films — at least the ones we tend to hear about here in the US — are laser-focused on the class divide.

        Reply
      2. beez

        According to Dramabeans (Javabeans and Girl Friday) the drinking culture is real! They said in a podcast how after work drinking with colleagues is considered an obligation and to refuse to drink is not an option, especially if your boss is there.

        Reply
        1. Natalia

          Sadly I have never socialized with a Korean; I mean I’ve met a few for work but drinking culture in Korea or sleeping in street clothes were not on the discussions agenda! According to my husband, however, there is a real issue of being pressured to drink in Japan and, to his knowledge (that is the few times he’s been in SK and his dealings with SKeans for work – arguably not an in depth knowledge of the situation) things are even more intense there. Myself, visiting in Japan, I’ve never felt pressured to drink but a) I was not in a work environment b) I’m a foreigner so noone really minds what I do or don’t do and last but not least c) I’m half Russian so everyone secretly thinks I drink vodka instead of water anyway (like my in laws stocking up on vodka the first times we went visit just in case I fainted of no vodka was available in the house…).
          I wonder though if any reader here is Korean or has spent a significant amount of time in Korea and could enlighten us?

          Reply
          1. merij1

            Despite the show flaming out by the end, this very topic was the uniquely great part of Something In The Rain.

            The FL and her female colleagues are forced to drink excessively with their male bosses at karaoke bars on a regular basis. It’s sold as team-building, but in fact the men are abusing their workplace seniority privileges to flirt with or even paw the women.

            The FL lead played by Son Ye-jin (of CLOY) passively allows herself to be used in this way, but then discovers her agency and rebels, leading to a sexual harassment complaint against the firm.

            It’s too bad they messed up that show. It really had a lot going for it.

            Reply
            1. Natalia

              Merij1, wasn’t that also the case with the FML’s friend (the no nonsense, career driven one) in Because this is my first life? It must be awful for these women, although, to be realistic, it happens to some extent in western countries too (from my own experience, when I was working in France it was almost impossible to refuse going out “to have a drink” with senior colleagues especially when you’re a newbie, but at least noone really pressures you into drinking excessive quantities of alcohol).
              I haven’t watched Something in the rain because I don’t really like noona romances. Although I think a (sensible) age difference in a couple is perfectly acceptable both ways, the way this is pictured in dramas (not only kdramas) is absolutely cringy.

              Reply
              1. merij1

                SitR didn’t feature a significant age difference, at least from our Western perspective. As written, the FL was maybe five years older, but they were both old enough that it wasn’t apparent looking at them. He was just this side of 30 and she was mid 30s.

                The bigger issue was that the ML and his sister had lost their mom — and had an AWOL dad — and the FL’s parents had treated them like adopted family. So from their POV, it felt like a taboo older sister/younger brother romance.

                Everyone but the mom got over that, however. Her real issue was that as a virtual orphan, he brought nothing to her family. No money, no family status to bring to the table.

                It was a revelation to see the same actress play such polar opposite moms in SitR and then One Spring Night. A hateful small-minded harridan — to my Western eyes — then the best mom ever.

                Reply
    2. Snow Flower

      I suspect that some aspects of Korean culture shown in dramas are true, and others are just artistic license. I too find the drinking scenes a bit excessive. How do these people function? That kind of explains the medical dramas stereotype about everybody needing a liver transplant. I also find the obsession with celebrity and beauty rather disturbing.
      I do like the attention paid to food, cooking, and eating.

      Reply
      1. Natalia

        Sunflower, Merij1, BE, what especially intrigues me is this you can’t talk back to your hyung/nuna/sunbae whatever thing, I mean that people seem forced to take shit from people just because they’re a year older or something. My husband is Japanese and they have this respect thing in their culture too, but even he says that if what we see in dramas is accurate, it’s Japan x 3.

        Reply
        1. merij1

          Ha. Yes, yet another way one class of people creates cultural “rules” to enshrine their privilege.

          I love when the fine print of “who is senior” gets confusing. For example, if I was two years ahead of you back when we knew each other in college, but now you’re my boss, who is the sunbae?

          Reply
            1. merij1

              Exactly.

              This topic of respect for one’s seniors is one of the reasons we liked One Spring Night so much — the sense that the older generation was bemused that their children no longer obeyed their every command.

              Filial duty was always the gold standard for seniority, to the point that of course you married whomever your parents (father) told you to marry, like it or not.

              Reply
              1. Natalia

                Respecting your elders (as long as they’re not walking all over you) is commendable, it’s the sunbae thing I’m not getting when said sunbae is a bully that happens to be a year older. By the way, I hope Korean schools do not have this much of a problem with bullying as we see in dramas.

                Reply
                1. BE

                  It must be serious enough. IU has often spoken about her lack of stature as a child led other school kids to bully her mercilously and has even set up some sort of philanthropic organization to deal with it.

                  One can see quite often in the adult behavior presented in the shows how badly, often physically, people take out their insecurities on one another. It is a learned behavior.

                  Of course, here in the states it goes on as well, with girls often psychologically, and via social media. One of the great ironies of our First Lady’s stance against bullying is how much of a bully her husband is.

                  Reply
                  1. Natalia

                    You’re in the States? Things must be pretty weird today.
                    Yes, bullying is a worldwide phenomenon, but I still hope things are not that bad because this is hell. I am so nostalgic of my school days, when noone bullied us at school (arguably with the exception of the Party, but let’s not get into that…).

                    Reply
                    1. BE

                      Stress filled, especially for someone who holds a different perspective than 70% of my neighbors after spending a long adult life in which I was in synch with 70%. Where are you from Natalia?

                    2. Natalia

                      @BE, the answer is complicated. I was born in the USSR, my father’s family was of Greek origin however so we moved to Greece in the 90s. Then my mother is half French, so I went to study in France, where I stayed on for several years to work. I came back to Greece a few years ago. So I think that I can say that I am from Greece but with a bit of a soviet past and a dip in French culture ? Oh, and my husband is Japanese, so…🤪
                      Concerning your elections, let’s hope for the best… Ti be honest, if I were you I think I would avoid talking to any friend/relative/acquaintance/neighbour etc for a few days just to avoid the arguments…

                    3. BE

                      @Natalia. A the Kfangirl Verdict! A magnet for the world. Such a worldly soul–what a perspective you must have. I have an old friend who has lived in Greece for the past 30 years, and she has no desire to ever return.
                      I do not talk politics where I live at all, with a handful of exceptions. My family is on my side. No matter the outcome at the top, the US is more divided now than anytime in my life since the Viet Nam war, and that will not only affect our citizens but, alas, the rest of the world. One third of our populace if told the story of Kingdom via social media as if it were actually happening here would believe it. The Deep State, zombie warfare! The US is living in two separate senses of reality. Alas.

                    4. beez

                      High School in the U.S. – bullying is a rite of passage no matter which side of it you’re on. In Detroit, if you were going to survive, you learned how to stand up to bullies beginning in elementary school. But nowadays, I think social media turns it into something that kids feel (and they may be right) that they can never leave behind.

                    5. Natalia

                      @Beez, I blame cell phones. Back when we were kids, I guess there were incidents of bullying but noone was around to film them and share them with the whole school “for fun”, or even post them on the internet. I think kids nowadays even do mean things to their classmates motivated by this urge to make fun and share it on the social media. To be honest, as a mother this really worries me. But anyway, I’m digressing.

                2. BE

                  One other thought about the sunbae “thing”; the other side of this would be presented by Dong Hoon in My Mister with respect to Li Ji-an. SPOILER. His view of himself as an adult and her a “kid” goes to the heart of his virtuous attitude toward the affection he feels towards her, and goes to the heart of the why their relationship is what it is from beginning to end.

                  Reply
              2. beez

                It’s funny, when I first began watching Kdrama, my thoughts were very western – “You’re marrying him, not his family!” And “You’re an adult! Can’t you make a decision without your parents? Why are the parents trying to control his/her life?”

                But now that I’m older, and now that I’m a mom-in-law, I have a totally different perspective. I totally agree with Korean culture that young people don’t have adult brains until around 27 years of age. 😆

                Reply
        2. beez

          Here’s the answer to your question about how the hierarchy works during a simple discussion where both parties may not agree https://youtu.be/J3wy_d9Jczo
          And I was reading an article regarding the investigation of an inordinate amount of planes crashing in the 1960’s and ’70’s and they concluded that it was due to co-pilots and other staff feeling unable to correct the pilot when they noticed an error. Now I know the conformation to hierarchy is real but since the investigation was conducted by outsiders, I find it hard to believe the results are totally accurate. I’ll see if I can find the link to the Wikipedia story.

          Reply
        3. beez

          Here’s a couple of links about Korean status culture and supposedly the cause of airplane crashes:

          https://www.cnbc.com/id/100869966

          https://thediplomat.com/2013/07/asiana-airlines-crash-a-cockpit-culture-problem/

          Of course, I couldn’t find the Wikipedia page that I was just reading a couple of days ago. And I don’t know how true the conclusions that the culture of hierarchy is the cause or if it’s the westerners who investigated lack of understanding of it exaggerated the results.

          Reply
    3. beez

      Here’s a question that I never got an answer to (and I’ve asked around…a LOT:
      Do S. Koreans actually sleep in their clothes?
      I know it’s not the clothes they wore throughout that day. You’ll see a character go wash up for bed and they change into sweat pants or soft pants and a sweater with maybe a shirt on under the sweater. Now I’ve heard plenty of Korean-American bloggers joke about their parents not wanting to turn up the heat and telling them to put a sweater on, but I’ve yet to have one answer my question about sleeping in clothes. At first, I just thought it was the whole conservative censorship thing, but I see it so often and with deliberate changing into “street clothes” after washing up for bed so I don’t know if it’s a real thing or not. Are those older clothes that became their sleeping pj’s or is it a modesty thing?

      The only time we see actual sleepwear are in serious dramas or in rom coms where a wealthy couple may have matching pj’s (FTLY).

      Reply
      1. merij1

        I spent a couple minutes researching the sleep clothes topic. (To keep from looking at the political headlines.) I suspect it’s most common to wear an older street shirt with sweat pants or the equivalent.

        K-Drama takes that as the baseline and rounds up to something really nice and expensive.

        Reply
      2. merij1

        Here’s an amusing response to the question of how accurate K-drama is at portraying life in SK, from the Ask-A-Korean blog:

        Sam 10/20/2011 10:46 AM
        The South Korea that is shown in dramas and movies is 100% completely accurate and true-to-life!

        When I visited Korea for the first time in 2008, I was set up for a blind date with a pretty but bitchy corporate bigwig’s daughter, but I turned her down for a poor but virtuous kimbap seller who grew up in an orphanage. Next day, I met my true father (the date was more urgent), who runs a traditional art gallery in Insadong and still wears hanbok every day.

        I also made friends with a Moroccan-Frenchman who makes a living playing a native-speaker ESL teacher on TV, and narrowly escaped being kidnapped and sold for parts by a vicious gang of bootleg organ-dealers by running down a dark alley alone. But no one bothered me in the dark alley.

        To which someone replied:

        and did you get any piggybacks?

        Reply
        1. Natalia

          “Or any wrist grabs?”

          That was excellent, merij1. And as a mother of young children who tend to fall asleep when visiting friends, family etc (well, when we could do that), Kdramas have taught me that a piggyback is a so much easier way to carry around kids (as compared to the bridal way).

          Reply
      3. BE

        I dunno, I have not slept in pjs since I was a kid. Not overclothes like you see folks do in some of these shows, but except in the cold of winter pjs are not comfortable, and for men in the US, one generally finds only bottoms are ever sold.

        Reply
        1. beez

          😆 @phl1rxd – Or do they? I do see lots of actors and actresses pull off their shows with no socks but I also see a lot of them with sock footies on so…

          Do you remember the 80’s tv series Miami Vice that made the no sock look cool? Men were dressing in suits with dress shoes and no socks. Cool look but sweaty feet. ew!😖

          Reply
          1. phl1rxd

            Hi Beez – I think it is time I did some ‘Sole Searching’ while ‘Drama Watching’. I never noticed footies as I cannot remember them ever taking off their shoes. Hmm…I need to watch more carefully…..

            Reply
            1. beez

              @phl1rxd – lololol Kdrama characters take their shoes off – literally – every episode several times an episode. I guess I notice because I’m interested in the customs. I no longer allow street shows in my house now. It seems bizarre that I ever thought that was okay. But I take notice of things like, for instance, usually a person in Kdrama world will not walk completely barefoot (no socks) unless it is their own home. That’s a sign of being comfortable and would be viewed as a bit rude as a guest to do so. I’m also trying to figure out the rules for other places. In some wealthy homes, shoes remain on but I’m guessing that’s because they have house maids who scrub the floors for them. Hospitals -shoes are left on. Funerals – shoes are off in the “chapel” (for lack of me knowing the proper term for the room where the bows are offered before the deceased’s picture). Some office jobs the shoes are left on and others change into leather slippers/sandals kept under their desk. I can’t figure out if that’s for comfort or cleanliness because if it were cleanliness it seems like the outdoor shoes would be left at the lobby, not worn over to the desk and then changed. 🤔

              Reply
              1. phl1rxd

                Beez – 🤣🤣 I meant to say I cannot remember them ever taking off their footies. It is the lack of sleep since Tuesday. I am officially on the footies job!

                Reply
              2. phl1rxd

                Beez – I gotcha – ‘Start Up’ drama E7 01:02:35 – Ha! Why in all these years have I never seen footies before? I am going to blame this on being on permanent subtitle duty.

                Reply
                1. beez

                  @phl1rxd – LOL I’m not watching Start Up so I’ll assume the time marker showed footies. But you’re still right because I do see many completely bare feet come out of shoes – usually women’s high heels.

                  Reply
                2. beez

                  @phl1rxd – You mentioned subtitles duty and I just wanted to say that’s another reason that I am trying to learn Korean. I can recall in my newbie days, reading the Dramabeans recaps and being surprises at them mentioning an arm/hand motion or facial expression that I had completely missed!

                  Reply
  8. beez

    So here’s something new https://www.forbes.com/sites/joanmacdonald/2020/10/23/liv-hewson-revisits-k-drama-magic-in-season-two-of-dramaworld/
    It’s regarding the American produced show Dramaworld in which an American girl gets dropped into the world of Kdrama characters and that show getting a second season. I never watched the first season although I originally planned to but there was very little buzz about it so I considered it a novelty with no real substance or entertainment value so just crossed it off my list and never looked back.

    Well, somebody must have thought it was decent enough to create a second season and not just any second season but with the following stars:

    Ha Ji won, Henry Lau, and Daniel Dae Kim (yassss that Daniel Dae kim of Lost, Hawaii Five-O, and executive producer of the U.S. version of The Good Doctor).

    I guess I’d better hurry up and watch Season 1 so that I’m ready for Season 2!

    Reply
    1. Natalia

      I haven’t watched it either. By reading this article though I get this feeling that the lead, the actress I mean, is really not into Kdramas and, for some inexplicable reason, this bugs me.

      Reply
      1. j3ffc

        Well, I’ll have to check it out, too, not least of which b/c I found Ha Ji-won to be all kinds of awesome in her stint on the variety show “House on Wheels” and I’ve wanted to watch one of her shows to follow up (probably will start with Secret Garden).

        Reply
        1. beez

          @j3ffc – Ha Ji won is all sorts of awesome in Secret Garden! She has a scene where she’s shooting a movie as a stunt woman and she reminds me of Angela Jolie in one of those graverobber movies except Ha Ji won is doing her own stunts and she is incredible!

          Reply
          1. merij1

            We watched the first episode of Dramaworld a while back. Plus the scene where she sees Han Ji-min and some other actor dining at the restaurant where she works and blurts out stupid stuff because she can’t seem to keep in mind that Han Ji-min is a character in a K-drama at that moment and has no idea what she’s talking about.

            The premise seemed good and each episode was very short, as I recall. But we dropped it.

            Reply
            1. beez

              @merji – Ha Ji min was in Drama World??? If I’d known it had any legit Kdrama actors in it, I probably would’ve at least given it a peek. I thought the premise was pretty neat also.

              Reply
              1. merij1

                It’s a very brief cameo, with Han Ji-min and Choi Siwon playing themselves as characters in a K-drama. She recognizes them because she’s seen the show they starred in, but them suddenly showing up in character in the wrong show is another sign that things are breaking down.

                Tbh, it was not my style. I wanted to like it, since it fluidly mixes up American and South Korean actors. One minute they’re talking in Korean, the next in English.

                It was just a little too silly for me.

                Reply
      2. beez

        @Natalia – ME TOO! I mean REALLY, REALLY bugs me. I mean, she got the lead role, the very LEAST she could do is check out one complete Kdrama. Is 16 hours too much time to devote researching your job? If an actor spends time researching and observing then they can bring something more to their performance. She should’ve also been researching what fandom outside of S. Korea is like, especially Kdrama fans from America since that’s what she’s portraying.

        And I could be wrong, but I think that was her first role in anything. Talk about lack of commitment to your craft. Jeez

        But oh well, I know I’ll watch because of the KDrama veterans and Henry.

        Reply
      3. merij1

        Actually, the premise is that the the lead, a head-in-the-clouds American girl, is totally obsessed with K-drama. It’s all she thinks about. Then suddenly she is transported into one.

        Once there, she learns that some nefarious person or force is sabotaging the K-drama universe for reasons unknown. For example, as an avid watcher, the girl knows that the ML and FL have to express their love or kiss by Ep 9. Because that’s the rule. But someone is nudging things to prevent this from happening.

        It turns out she is not the only one who’s lucid dreaming, as it were. There are, in fact, helpers who work in the background to ensure these dramas play out well. So she joins them in trying to defeat those who would harm Dramaworld.

        Reply
        1. beez

          @merij1 – “…some nefarious person or force is sabotaging the K-drama universe for reasons unknown.”

          That’s EXACTLY how I felt when Netflix got into the Kdrama game and now with Apple elbow punching their way into it. Soon it will be like everything else. Do y’all remember when you went to work and there were what was called “water cooler moments”? For the youngsters, that’s back before cable started having tv shows (it was mostly movies at first). And the water cooler moment didn’t necessarily involve a water cooler but it represents employees at said water cooler or in a break room discussing tv shows because we all watched the same thing because everything was on broadcast television. Shows like Seinfeld, Home Improvement and Friends. And you didn’t need to pay three different subscription services to watch three different shows. Ohhh, the good ol’ days. 😆

          Now I’m looking back on how I was always trying to recruit newcomers to Kdrama. But as they say, be careful what you wish for. I didn’t anticipate that with that popularity, companies would be vying for our subscription dollars and breaking up the whole thing until it will become impossible to afford every subscription channel that will be carrying Kdramas. (I’m still mad that I’m paying for CBS All Access just to feed my Star Trek addiction.) I “cut the cable” years ago and at first it was a real cash saver by subscribing only to Netflix and Hulu (plus Viki and DramaFever). But now, I may as well go back to the cable mafia https://youtu.be/UPw-3e_pzqU.

          Reply
            1. beez

              My sister and I refer to our local cable company as “the mafia”. They know they’re the only game in town so they don’t care if you threaten to cancel your account because they know you’ll be back even though they have shady billing practices.

              Reply
    2. phl1rxd

      Hi Beez – I do not think I lasted more than 3 episodes. It was a frustrating watch and i 100% agree with Natalie. Not even Henry could keep me in it.

      Reply
      1. beez

        Well, I’m going to give it a try but I’ll probably wait and binge it once Season 2 is out so that it’s fresh in my memory.

        Reply
  9. snow

    Nice post! I remember writing something like this a few years back.

    For me, the first thing is synopsis. If it interests me or has my favorite tropes like friends-to-lovers or marriage of convenience, I surely give it a try. Genres can be included in this too.

    Then I also see the writer’s past works…if there is any show that i had liked, that again places the drama in my plan list.

    Then comes the cast….if there are actors that I like, or not get excited about. Also, I don’t necessarily continue a drama even if it has one of my favorites. There has to be some driving force [in some cases I endure a drama I’m not enjoying because I’m watching it weekly with someone on Netflix :D)]

    Also, if a show gets a lot of positive word of mouth, I give it a try.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl Post author

      That’s a nice system you’ve got going there, snow!! 😃 Yes, the synopsis is definitely important (and sometimes shows get done a disservice when the synopsis doesn’t do it justice), and the writer’s past works is often a good indication as well (though not a guarantee, since everyone can have a moment when they’re off their game). I think positive word of mouth is the clincher for me these days.. if I see a lot of buzz on a show, I’m more likely to check it out – if only to satisfy my curiosity! 😅

      Reply
      1. snow

        I agree…many writers whose work I’ve liked in the past have given disappointing dramas 😀
        Positive word of mouth is definitely something that gets me to watch a show I was not previously planning to see.

        Reply
  10. j3ffc

    Like all of you, I have my drama “home base” but, similar to my taste in movies or books, I find myself enjoying any genre under certain circumstances. I’ve found scanning reviews and overviews very helpful for sorting through shows I would ordinary be drawn to, but this community is fantastic for helping move outside my comfort zone. It’s thanks to y’all that I’m now watching and really enjoying “Tree With Deep Roots” – I had essentially no idea of which saeguk to begin with. And, although not an adventure/mystery guy (my wife is, so that is where we live on public television watching), thanks to this blog I will eventually watch Healer. Promise.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl Post author

      Aw yay that you’ve found everyone’s input helpful, Jeff! 😃 And YAY that you’ll eventually check out Healer!! 🤩 I really hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!

      Reply
  11. BE

    Another fertile topic, K, really do the big South Korean channels know about your site? They ought to, not to mention the show runners as well.

    I think I am choosier than most, and I am open to series from all over–right now Fargo, Season 4 has caught my eye. However I must say K-Drama does a number of things well that series from elsewhere (I like the Americans, the Brits, the Scandanavians for drama) have difficulty matching, complexity of character, great support both major and minor, the ability to carry several leads simultaneously, the literate plotting, the ability to sit broad humor that lacks cynicism next to compelling drama, and a certain straight forward quality even when being satirical that is refreshingly good natured. And there is hardly anything like sageuk drama anywhere else. How the South Koreans have taken something that appears to be a classical form of theatre and turned it into popular entertainment is quite wonderful to me.

    The problem, however, for me is the very, very good in K Drama sets such a high bar. It has been over a year and a half since I saw My Mister for the first time, and darn if every other contemporary drama I have watched since, the good, the bad, and in beween…well, none of them quite match up.

    But one thing I have been doing of late being an old person in American covid iso is to find good Korean movies. A lot of those that make it out to the states seem to be gangster and action flicks, which are not usually my cup of tea, but some have great acting ensembles, some of the dramas quite beguiling. There is a different set of actors, albeit some overlap, who are also noteworthy, and best of all the films only require an hour and a half to two hours of investment for that hit of K-film wonderful. I live where it is a zillion degrees on summer afternoons, so I have seen a number of wonderful matinees so to speak this past summer.

    As I said here before, the first K drama I got into was Mr. Sunshine, and let me say, as much as I liked the leads Kim Tae Ri and Lee Byung Hun, both have turned out even better performances in film. You want a holiday from the world’s bad news–my goodness Little Forest with Kim Tae Ri is simply a wonderful time out from the world’s nonsense and despair. I save it now for just those times when the world is too much with me, if you know what I mean. You want to see an edgy feminist erotic thriller, well then The Handmaiden in which she plays the title role, if second female lead, is perfectly disturbing with Kim Min-Hee who puts in a clinic on antihero character study. Lee Byung Hun has been in so many great movies and has played so many different kinds of roles–it really made me appreciate his enactment in Mr. Sunshine as a long cool drink of water kind of hero, because that is not the kind of character he usually enacts.

    Having seen him first in Descendants of the Sun, a ho hum, imo B grade tv series, I never got what a phenomenal actor Song Joon-Ki is…till I saw him in Wolf Boy–now if he is in a K Drama, I will check him out every time.

    And if it were not for seeing Korean films I would never have seen Choi Min-Sik, who is a devastatingly good actor, a giant, or Song Kang Ho, who is in one great film after another. By the same token, it was very cool to watch Park So Dam in Parasite, recalling this is the same actor that played the bubbly cop opposite Jang Hyuk in Beautiful MInd. I have my eye out in case she does some K drama lead. And speaking of Parasite, what a pleasure to watch the great character actor Lee Jung-eun as the housekeeper, remembering just how terrific she was in Mr. Sunshine as Ae-Shin’s devoted Haman, what an actor she is!

    Right now I am waiting… waiting… ear to the ground as K suggests, knowing what I like, but keeping an open mind when the word o mouth comes toward me with a lilt on the tongue. Being a follower of a number of art forms in my life, what I have found is that if you view your relationship with art as a path with a heart, good things without fail come to those who wait for them.

    Reply
    1. beez

      Park So dam is starring in an ongoing Kdrama “Record of Youth” on Netflix. It’s not bad but neither is it especially interesting either. She doesn’t look like herself in this one. I guess it’s the reddish-blonde hair.

      Reply
    2. merij1

      We finished My Mister last night. Sigh. Now that’s a truly perfect show. It’s so good I couldn’t even think of anything to say about it when I commented at KFG’s review page — nothing that the show itself didn’t already convey far more eloquently than I ever could. And coming from a wordy guy like me, that’s saying a lot.

      Despite many of you recommending it, I had put it off because it looked so depressing. Personally, I think the marketing was a fail. Based on the trailer and synopsis it looks like it will be an extended version of Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation (starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson). That kind of “sad sack meets sad sack and finds kinship” story is fine for two hours, but 20+ seems a bit much.

      To our surprise, it turned out to be the most uplifting show we’ve seen in years. And so well-executed in every respect. I’m in awe.

      Reply
      1. j3ffc

        I keep putting MM off, not because it looks depressing, but because it is on my list of “destination shows” that I save for special watches. The list has gotten kind of short so it may take a while – I hope it’s still available when I’m ready for it. Glad it was a fulfilling watch for you.

        Reply
        1. merij1

          Jeff: Netflix recently picked it up, so now you have options for how you want to see it. Their subtitle translation choices are quite different than, say, Viki, where amateurs sometimes take the added step of explaining Korean idioms that we wouldn’t otherwise get.

          For example, Netflix will translate someone raising their fist and exclaiming “fighting!” as: “good luck!” or “let’s do a good job!”

          I actually want to go back right away and re-watch it on Viki to compare.

          Reply
        2. BE

          The best. And it stands up to rewatch very well, all the nuances. Most of all IU’s performance. It is so understated that one sometimes does not notice how well she grows into her character. This is even more evident when one considers both other roles she has been in and her music performer persona. She is very well directed and puts on a wonderful physical performance. But this is true for the entire ensemble, the show bears rewatch to really savor the performances en toto.

          Reply
      2. beez

        @merik1 – that’s EXACTLY why I’ve been putting off watching it (that and I don’t care for the ML actor). I know EVERYBODY says it’s really good and I don’t doubt that. But it looks so sloooooow and sooo very Sad Sack and Debbie Downer. Your take on it is encouraging.

        Reply
        1. merij1

          Beez, have you ever gone on a several-day backpacking trip? The first day your backpack is super heavy and you are out of shape. But with each day the pack gets lighter — as you eat up the food — and you become stronger.

          My Mister is like that. It gets less sad and more deeply moving — in a heartwarming way — with each episode. And the plot moves so quickly into interesting territory, even the first episodes are compelling.

          I can’t recommend it enough. Must-see K-drama, for sure!

          Reply
        2. merij1

          As to Lee Sun-kyun (the ML), if Coffee Prince and My Mister are any indication, he’s certainly got a good eye for scripts!

          And I love his voice. For some reason I find it calming.

          Reply
          1. beez

            @merij1 – haha! It’s interesting you say that because his nickname in Kdrama circles is The Voice. It doesn’t matter what blog you visit, if you say “The Voice” everybody knows who you’re talking about. 😊

            Reply
        3. BE

          Lee Sun Kyun is devastatingly, heartbreakingly good in this. A role of a lifetime for him. I find Yoo Yeon Seok boring as all get out in almost everything I have seen him in…except as Gu Dong Mae. The right role for the right actor.

          Reply
          1. beez

            @BE -Gu Dong mae swoooon Totally my type! (love those bad boyz who are totally bad for me) 😉

            Honestly, although I recognize the quality and epic-ness of Mr. Sunshine, without Gu Dong mae, for me, it would’ve been a total snorefest.

            Reply
            1. BE

              Mr. Sunshine SPOILERS.
              Oh Gu Dong Mae steals the show, no doubt, but the actors and the performances they all put in from top to bottom are spectacular. Don’t tell me you were not moved by Haman’s final scene in the street next to the palaquin, Haeng Rang nearby his arm spread out toward her, there in Ae Shin’s arms or the touching way she gives Haeng Rang such a hard time throughout. And my goodness wasn’t Choi Moo Sung simply wonderful scene after scene as Gunner Jang; just think of him on his knees below the bridge. And say what you will about Gu Dong Mae, he was over and over upstaged by Mina, her vulnerabiltiy, and Ae Shin, her steely eyed glare. For me in the end, it was that rare combination of tragedy, which implies inevitability, and the heroic impulse in the face of all that, the ensemble entire bringing it to life that left its mark in my memory, Hui Sung in the end saying “I am a man who loves useless things, jokes…” Potter Eun Sun with Eugene Choi as a boy and as a man, in his final scene leading the Righteous Army against all mortal odds. If Gu Dong Mae had simply remained a killer set for revenge as we see him at the beginning, rather than one more element of this heroic tragedy, he would not have been half so compelling.

              Reply
              1. beez

                Honestly, it’s been so long since I watched Mr. Sunshine that I don’t remember the characters’ names other than Eugene and Gu Dong mae. I remember Choi Moo Sung as the Gunner/trainee. That’s not saying I don’t remember the characters themselves based on their scenes, occupations, etc. But the names themselves…

                As I said, Mr. Sunshine was not just an epic, it was epic but my biggest impression is Gu Dong mae.

                Reply
              2. beez

                @BE – and oh. Let’s get one thing straight – (is Mina the girl who lived with Gu Dong mae? Or maybe the hotel owner?) – either way – NOBODY “upstaged” Gu Dong mae for me! 😆 When he was on screen everyone and everything else was muted to the background. 😆 😆 😆

                Reply
                1. BE

                  PS I always have to look up both the names of characters and the actors who play them, even many who I like. It embarasses me to write about them without remembering their names, so I have to look them up over and over. Even Choi Moo Sung who I think is just spectacular, I always have to look up his name.

                  Mina owns the hotel. Ah I still see her on the beach, breaking down and beating on his chest, telling Gu Dong Mae that he better not die before her. Just as I remember several scenes in which Ae Shin takes him down a peg with nothing more than a glance. Kim Tae Ri’s eyes! Korean facial expression acting is one thing, but what Kim Tae Ri does with her eyes in Mr. Sunshine is something else. At the train station when she tells him he hasn’t got it in him to take her down, but, oh yes, she could without batting an eye take him down. Don’t get me wrong, I think Gu Dong Mae is straw that stiirs the show’s drink, the rhythm and propulsion that lights up the show, but he is set up by being foiled with such a great ensemble.

                  Haman, by the way, is Ae Shin’s lady in waiting/confidant, her “right hand man” and Haeng Rang is her bodyguard.

                  Reply
                  1. beez

                    Ahhhh. Thanks, BE. And yassssss. And as you describe the scene where Kim Tae ri said that to Gu Dong mae – that was very good. But why does my mind go from there to him insulting her by cutting her hair?! I was sure there would be repercussions from that. (And that is probably why my preference is for Gu Dong mae and not Eugene.)

                    It’s weird that I don’t remember Mina beating her chest or that scene (because it sounds so intense). But I do seem to remember her riding on Gu Dong mae’s back and I think she was injured? It sounds like it’s time for me to rewatch Mr. Sunshine.

                    Reply
                    1. BE

                      SPOILERS: What you are remembering is Mina’s death scene. I was speaking about the scene on the same beach after Mina discover where her mother is buried. Dong Mae is telling her to live a different life, get some beautiful dresses, a painting on the wall, and she looks at him and asks why is he talking to her like that is he going to die soon. Dong Mae replies bad guys die young, and Mina breaks down.
                      In re the hair cutting scene, Mina has break in and restrain Ae Shin. As in every such scene, because of the script in part, Dong Mae comes on like a tough guy but he is trembling; Ae Shin is cold steel in a hot forge. Dong Mae is the bad boy, but Ae Shin is both figuratively and literally out of his class, and he feels it. The two actors do it perfectly.

                    2. beez

                      @BE – Nope. I don’t remember about Mina’s mother.

                      But your description of Ae shin and Dong mae’ s interactions and their characters is spot on.

                    3. beez

                      @BE I meant to add that what I meant by expecting repercussions for cutting Ae shin’s hair – if Eugene were my ideal hero, he would have stepped in and handled that. It doesn’t matter to me that Aeshin is badazz – she wasn’t badazz enough to keep it from happening. But even if she were, my hero type would’ve done something about it. I bet you if somebody had cut Dong mae’s woman’s hair blood would run in the streets! And if his woman had handled it herself, he would have killed the corpse again! lol

                    4. BE

                      @beez Eugene was not present at the hair cutting incident, and my goodness have you forgotten the scene in the train at the end? Ae Shin was under everyone’s protection, even Goo Dong Mae was trying to protect her by cutting her hair. SPOILERS Ae Shin is the hero of the story and the survivor. She embodies all the hopes and dreams of the Korean people. Everyone else in the story, including Goo Dong Mae, is adjunct to Ae Shin. Just loving her, immersing himself in her flame, makes Eugene Choi heroic. Being willing to stand beneath her targeted gaze when she is commanded to assassinate him and do it for her behalf, really, you and I have serious differences about this. Eugene Choi is the biggest bad ass and most heroic character among all the male leads. Ae Shin has nothing to fear from Goo Dong Mae beyond his ability to wake her up to her sense of privilege.

                    5. beez

                      @BE – Nope. Either you didn’t understand what I said or I wasn’t clear on expressing it. I’ll try to come back tomorrow when things aren’t so busy to clear up what I meant.

                    6. beez

                      @BE – I know that Eugene wasn’t present when Goo Dong mae cut off Ae shin’s hair but I would’ve expected him to take action upon seeing her hair or hearing about the incident. And that was such a bodacious act that I’m sure everyone in town would’ve been talking about it.

                      Explain to me, please, how Dong mae cutting her hair was “trying to protect her” and not just some form of possession-aggression (aka being an azhle)?

                      I never said that Eugene Choi was not a hero on this story, I merely questioned one scene that surprised me that it didn’t result in what I would’ve expected. AND that Eugene just isn’t the heartthrob for me in this story – that belongs to Goo Dong mae.

                  2. beez

                    @BE – now that you’ve supplied the names of the supporting characters – I do remember the lady in waiting’s death 😥 and how awesome Mina was in her part of the rebellion (the shooting from the train scene). So cool 😎

                    Reply
                    1. BE

                      Yes, and yet I have seen Yoo Yeon Seok in other things and he has always seemed kind of meh to me.
                      Here is an idea for you–a period drama in which Jang Hyuk and Yoo Yeon Seok are Robin Hood kindsa guys, and they get a chance to riff on each other Jang Hyuk all on his sleeve, Yoo Yeon Seok brooding, and the two of them together seriously bad! In the best possible ways.

    3. phl1rxd

      Great comment BE. I have also wondered over the years whether or not the K Entertainment industry ever looks at this site. They may have as this site has 6,409,158 views. That number is no small potatoes.

      Reply
        1. MC

          @merij1 so glad you loved MM! I cannot say enough good things about it other than I think it’s one of the best tv shows – not just K dramas but tv shows – I’ve ever watched in my life. Acting, directing, writing, music, themes – everything is pretty much perfect. This show left such a deep impression on me that from time to time I still think about it’s themes and songs. Just, so good.

          @beez @j3ffc please watch it! It’s just too good. @beez – it does start out depressing but as it progresses you’ll believe in the power of humanity 🙂 so it’s worth stomaching the hard part at first. A little like Misaeng another show I love – starts out hard to watch but so so satisfying to see the characters grow.

          And yes so much love for Lee Sun Kyun. I could listen to him all day!

          Reply
          1. merij1

            MC, I can’t think of a single thing about MM that wasn’t perfect. Above all, the absence of tropes and other lazy writing shortcuts.

            It felt like a team of creative people totally caught up in a great project, fearlessly aiming for the stars and actually pulling it off.

            Reply
  12. beez

    OHHHH NOOOOEEEEES! https://www.kdramapal.com/lee-min-ho-star-new-apple-tv-plus-series-pachinko/
    I just can’t with you K-Drama! I’ve been loyal up until now with paying for my streaming subscriptions – Viki, DramaFever (before defunct), Netflix and even Kocowa. But this is going too far! My son gave me his log in for AppleTv. I planned to watch the Emily Dickinson show but every show needs to be purchased (I thought his having an iphone meant the subscription was included).

    And now I know why I was so nervous when Netflix first began having currently airing Kdramas. While I wanted the world to join me in my addiction, look what’s happening now that it’s going mainstream. I guess they’re driving me to the illegit pusher/dealer to get my fix.😭

    Reply
    1. BE

      The novel was good, written by a Korean American, a serious drama/character study, highlighting the challenges of Koreans in 20th C Japan

      Reply
      1. Elaine Phua

        Agree, the novel was very well-written, it really opened my eyes to a short but significant time in Korean history, the time when it was under Japanese occupation, through to WWII, the Korean War and modern times. These big events were told from the viewpoint of a Korean family living in Japan over a few generations, quite a unique perspective that I’ve never known before. Super melodramatic at times. But well worth the read if you have any interest in the history of Korea!

        Reply
  13. Kay

    This is a great breakdown of what goes into choosing dramas 🙂 So many factors come into play: mood, timing, who its starring, writing, genre, and the list just goes on!

    Like you, I’ve been watching dramas for a long time and use a variety of methods to zone in on what I want to watch. It has definitely gotten harder to sift through. But I know my tastes pretty well and have my favored genres, genres I give a hard pass to, writers I love, and a few actors and actresses I will at least show up for and give it a go. Reading non-spoilery reviews and comments go a long way in helping too, particularly for shows I’m not sure about or that don’t fit my usual tastes. Drama watching really is a bit of a science 🙂

    Reply
    1. beez

      @Kay – “Science”! Yassss! I like that. Now I can justify the many hours spent on Kdrama as exercising my mind. 👍 👍 👍

      Reply
      1. Kay

        I use that to justify my drama watching too. All of the science and in depth experiments that go into a drama watching experience is well worth all of those hours 😂

        Reply
        1. beez

          @Kay – it’s true. It’s been educational and interesting to hear outside of my own country how certain historic events are viewed. For instance, while I’ve heard all of the homegrown conspiracies regarding the death of JFK – I heard an entirely different take on it while watching the first episode (or second) of Iris. (Sadly, I can’t remember what it was now but I remember being totally blown away at the time.)

          Reply
          1. Kay

            I know exactly what you mean. As someone who loves history, I really find it interesting to gain perspective on how different events are perceived around the world. Kdramas have caused to me research things further in depth so many times which is just one of the many reasons I am grateful to have found them 🙂

            Reply
  14. simple

    hi kfangurl,
    totally agree with you in all your tips on choosing dramas to watched. 12 years of kdrama watching only that i checklist the wikipedea yearly kdramas by networks if i missed any of kdramas on my radar. i avoid watching more than 60 episodes and try to stick with 16 to 32 episodes.
    i watched all genre but try not to watch same genre consecutively and yes our moods plays a role too. reading your websites reviews, insights,topics, comments nurture my kdrama addiction . i think im on stage 4 ,if there is such kdrama stage.. storyline,scriptlines, kdrama characters, productions, ost singers, pds, bts, – analyst

    ex. its ok to not be ok kdrama. – love that drama and waited for your full review and now i understand the script writer style point of view.. as a fairytale too.. the villian dont get a backstory .. she is evil period. 🙂
    – our jang hyuk in tell me what you saw, i know you seldom watch psycho thriller crime dramas. which is my fave genre , jang hyuk as a profiler. thumbs up.
    Have you tried watching ” chip in” ? its like playing the board game cluedo.

    kfangurl, stay safe, take care always. fighting!!!

    Reply
  15. merij1

    Yes, this is pretty how we go about it as well. Not being fangirls, we got to your stage three pretty fast. So we try to balance being careful — so as not to get turned off to where we need a K-drama break — with not being too timid and thus missing something great just because it’s outside our current box.

    Which is we recently watched Sungkungkwan Scandal and are currently watching My Mister.

    We typically go for romance, so neither was an obvious choice based on genre. But your reviews and fellow commenters’ recommendations overrode that shortcoming.

    My Mister is excellent, btw. We’re only through Ep. 7, which feels shocking since so much has already happened. Truly not a formulaic script. With those, you can watch 20 episodes, yet feel like it was actually only four in terms of the material, with annoying gambits to keep things from being resolved until they hit the magic 16 hours. In this show, the writers seem to have no worries that they can come up with new material once they play out the current tension.

    But I digress…

    Like everyone, I keep a list of shows you guys recommend. Recently I started adding a note on which person(s) recommended it and why. I really wish I’d done that from the start.

    That said, I’m pretty sure Beez thinks we should watch Six Flying Dragons, but only after watching Tree with Deep Roots. (ha ha)

    Reply
    1. MC

      Oh!! My Mister is so good that it spoiled me for a long time afterwards! Couldnt watch anything else coz it’s just so good. The show is so organic and heartfelt and I too am glad that I picked it up even though it’s not my usual fare. It’s honestly one of my favourite shows ever! Glad you are enjoying it!

      Reply
    2. beez

      @merij – YUP! YOU GOT IT!
      I’ll add another, albeit somewhat weird, recommendation: Chicago Typewriter. Show is some of everything. It’s difficult to describe but I think from what I’ve learned of you so far, I think you and your wife will really like it. Part of why I think you’ll like it are the many jokes in h’ommage [spell check is not helping me here] to older American movies.

      Reply
      1. BE

        Seriously, I felt the same way about Secret Love Affair before seeing My Mister. And it is still one of the greatest tv dramas I have ever seen featuring bravura performances by two of South Korea’s highest echelon actors. And there is simply no other drama that I have ever seen quite like it.

        Reply
        1. BE

          Don’t want to give away too much: SPOILER ALERT.
          Everything about the episode beginning with the tuna night out, but most especially given the eight previous episodes in which one can watch through the minutest facial expressions Li Ji-An’s growing affection for Dong Hoon, her overhearing the whole encounter at the end, and completely breaking down emotionally as a result. The whole series up to that point is a kind of slow burn. From there on out, buy kleenex.

          Reply
  16. Timescout

    Another great post! It’s been really interesting to read how others go about choosing their dramas. As of me, I just seem to pick things at random these days. 😀 I’m at the point now where most dramas just sound awfully trite, so when something catches my eye, I usually give it a go. No guarantee, I’ll stick with it though. g

    I do think that knowing what works and what doesn’t helps a lot. Apart from horror and extreme makjang, there really isn’t a genre that I wouldn’t try out, if I find the premise interesting. I don’t generally mind spoilers so I also read recaps/reviews and comments to some extent. And yes, mood matters. If you are not in the right mood, it’s better to just let be. “Force-watching” ain’t fun.

    Reply
  17. Natalia

    Love this post.
    My introduction to Kdramas, if I ignore a shocked first encounter with Boys over Flowers so many years ago, was Crash Landing On You and the reason was we were in lockdown and my husband (who is Japanese) was intrigued by the North Korea plot. The reason we stayed on in dramaland was Kingdom. Yes, zombies. So I believe our tastes somehow differ. Still, thanks to this site I got to watch and enjoy shows I wouldn’t really try were it not for you, such as Coffee Prince or Fight for my way.

    By the way, we are currently watching Save Me. It is a very interesting show but oh so dark. So I was wondering, if anyone has watched it, is it like this the whole time (we’re at ep.4)? Because this might be the first time I drop a show not because it’s bad but because it’s disturbing.

    Reply
    1. Shaz

      Hey Natalia, just responding to your question about Save Me. I’m not into horror/thriller dramas, at all, but started watching Save Me because of the cast. And I must say, I’m glad I stuck around and watched it till the end! While it’s mostly disturbing until the end, it’s also a really good drama with great performances from Seo Ye-ji and Woo Dohwan (Taecyon was just ok for me). My heart doesn’t take suspense all that well, so reading up the spoilers or recaps before watching really helped to lessen the scare. But definitely worth watching!

      Reply
      1. Natalia

        Hey Beez, I think I will stick around, but then I will probably need a very happy and fluffy show to watch immediately after. Are there any shows full of rainbows and unicorns??

        Reply
        1. beez

          My go to for lightweight fun is The Girl Who Sees Smells and Rooftop Prince. They both have heavy first episodes but after that… rainbows and unicorns (despite a serial killer in GWSS. The killer suffers from a disease where he can’t recognize faces so even he’s fun, in a way). lol

          Reply
            1. beez

              @Natalia – Let us all know what you think of the show over in Kfangurl’s review of it. It’s making me want to watch it again! Since I don’t have time for that, I think I’ll see if YouTube has any clips of the show so I can relive it a bit. ☺

              Reply
                1. Natalia

                  I got sucked into It’s ok to not be ok (which I loved), so I’m still half way through Save Me… So not yet! Did you like it?

                  Reply
                2. merij1

                  Beez and Natalia, the short version is that we enjoyed Rooftop Prince, but got very frustrated with the last set of episodes, not counting the very good finale.

                  It felt like the ‘suits told the writers to somehow delay finishing the story for four more episodes (jumping from 16 to 20) rather late in the game.

                  So suddenly the good-guy protagonists turn into eight-year-old children, incapable of thinking beyond the moment or even imagining that the bad guys might still exist after each minor victory, and thus making themselves ridiculously easy prey.

                  I would recommend anyone else watching this show skip those episodes altogether. Utter nonsense and certainly a buzz-kill for our enjoyment. Either that or fellow 8-year-olds actually were the target audience for this show.

                  That said, we loved all the characters. Every single one was well-cast and well-portrayed.

                  Reply
                  1. Natalia

                    Oh it’s 20 episodes? I hate shows with 20 episodes, there’s always a problem with pacing.
                    Anyway thanks, I’ll check it out!

                    Reply
                    1. merij1

                      Actually, there are only 16. However it took them 20 to say it. (snark alert!)

                      We love Han Ji-min and like the ML as well, so we’d watch it again for sure. But would skip parts near the end.

                      In some ways, it feels like Crash Landing on You, with the savvy SK woman bonding with naïve North Koreans. In fact I have to suspect the writers of CLOY stole that setup from Rooftop Prince.

                  2. beez

                    Awwww, so it sounds like it was a mixed bag for you, merij1. I’m sorry. I had hoped you’d like it as much as I did. In my defense, I did liken it to The Monkees which was utter nonsense but fun to me. 😄

                    Reply
                    1. merij1

                      That part was fine! I learned to enjoy the broad humor.

                      It was the lamely written action drama later on that we found annoying.

                    2. beez

                      @merij1 – To be honest, I don’t remember that at all. I only remember: the horrible first episode as it wasn’t what I was looking for in a comedy (and I remember that episodes in detail -ugh); I remember a few of the fish-out-of-water scenes 😄; the 90’s track suits; the reincarnation angle; and the ending. I mostly recommended it based on the emotional memory I have of how it made me feel. Maybe I should watch it again before I recommend it to anyone else.

                      (It would work out that the episode I’d rather forget is in my mind vividly!😖)

            2. phl1rxd

              Hi Natalie – I am with Beez on this one. I loved this show – you will not be disappointed. My favorite OST single – Hurt – is on my playlist and I listen to it quite often. Drama is full of fun, feelz and freshness. The love story is done well. On my re-watch list.

              Reply
              1. merij1

                We’re going to watch Rooftop Prince next, as well.

                Anything we watch next will pale, relative to our last show, My Mister. Sigh. So something light, breezy and romantic (that doesn’t aspire to “greatness”) seems like a safer transition to normal fare.

                It’s also a good fit since we recently enjoyed the ML in Sungkungkwan Scandal and have always been fond of Han Ji-min, starting with One Spring Night.

                Reply
                1. Natalia

                  My Mister is on our watch list as well. We haven’t watched it yet because it looks boring, but, reading everyone here this must certainly not be the case. But after watching It’s ok not to be ok and now Save Me, we need something fluffy before we engage ourselves in another “serious” show.

                  Reply
                  1. merij1

                    My Mister is def serious, but incredibly heartwarming. And not even close to boring. There is constant good guy/bad guy intrigue in play.

                    However timing is everything. So come back to it when you’re ready.

                    In the meantime we can compare notes on Rooftop Prince!

                    We’re watching a French show on Netflix, “Call Your Agent,” at the moment, which is kind of like Entourage, minus the bros. But it’s the type of show where you can choose to watch a few episodes at a time, so we’re using it as a palate cleanser.

                    Reply
                2. beez

                  @merij1 – just don’t make a judgment call based on the first episode. It’s all set up and not very pleasant or entertaining.

                  Reply
                  1. merij1

                    We’re about to start Ep 5 of Rooftop Prince. Here’s what I can say, thus far:

                    Eps 2-4 are much funnier with Tequila. It’s low-brow humor, so “less pain” definitely helps!

                    But what especially cracks me up is hearing people speak English.

                    I love Han Ji-min — as an actress and for her philanthropic work — and am personally terrible at learning other languages, so I give her a solid pass with big gold stars.

                    But the American actress who plays her friend from NYC is hysterical. I guess the idea is that Koreans TV watchers who speak some English enjoy understanding without subtitles. So she was directed to enunciate slowly like that. But it’s so wooden I’m literally glad to be watching just for that.

                    Ha. Gosh, am I a bad person?

                    Reply
                    1. phl1rxd

                      No Merij1 – Occasionally you will notice some Korean actors (Son Seok Koo, Shin Ae Ra e.g.) who are quite good at speaking English – the actors who live|d in Canada or US for a while e.g.. Like you, I give them a lot of credit for trying!

                    2. merij1

                      But this appeared to be an American actress, purposefully speaking oddly slow and stilted!

                      Btw, I’m fully aware that Americans are unique in the developed world for how provincial we are about other languages and the culture and customs of other places.

                      But this just cracked me up, somehow. Mostly it’s that I was already laughing a lot that episode.

                    3. beez

                      @merij1 But you will see stilted and overly pronounced English, a lot. First there’s the hard over pronunciation of all “t’s” whether they’re soft or not. I watched a Jdrama that starred a Korean actress and the ML’s name was Knight. I thought I would pull my hair out listening to her call him “Knight-TAH”. Thank goodness I’m used to it now. lol

                    4. beez

                      I don’t even remember Ha Ji min’s character having a friend. I remember something about a reincarnated step sister who really treated her horribly.

                      The Korean-American former hosts at Dramabeans used (coined?) the word “Konglish” for most of the English that appears in Kdrama. I know I missed some key plot points in Mr. Sunshine because the subtitlor assumed we could understand when the characters were speaking English.

                    5. merij1

                      Here are the scenes I was talking about with her American friend Amy:

                      Episode 4 of Rooftop Prince, from 22:40 to 24:00, ending with the odd syntax in this line:

                      “Bak Ha, come to New York. We can work happily together as before.”

                      Also amusing at 50:25 is an American-looking actor playing a bartender in NYC who, unlike “Amy,” clearly doesn’t speak English at all.

    2. Snow Flower

      Hi Natalia!

      Save Me is very disturbing, but if you liked Kingdom, you can probably handle it. Seo Ye Ji is excellent, and so is Woo Do Hwan.

      Reply
      1. Natalia

        Hey Snow Flower, thanks for replying. The thing is, I have no problem with zombies, because they are not real. However, monsters like the ones in Save Me unfortunately are real…

        Reply
        1. Snow Flower

          Natalia, KFG did a post on feel-good dramas. You should check the post and comments for ideas for your next drama watch after Save Me.

          Reply
  18. beez

    Thanks, so MUCH, Kfangurl! I think I’m going to take your advice about paying (more) attention to what other fans have to say about shows that I haven’t been interested in. I think I’ll try Hyena and then Memorials (although the guys here refer to it as something else that I can’t recall) and despite my dislike of actors Ju Ji-Hoon and Park Sung-Hoon. (Anti- oppas)

    I think my Dear FanGirl letter was prompted by my panic that I’m spending everyday learning Korean (sloooooowly) and thinking my very purpose of why I’m attempting to learn it is disappearing! I have no reason/motivation to learn it other than to be able to fold clothes or wash dishes or whatever while feeding my addiction. But if the addiction is waning… (which it is, due to the changing nature of Kdramas).

    But you’ve given me great advice. I just need to dig deeper to make good choices. It sounds like that means not jumping on every show that comes down the pike (sorry Oppas!) but rather that has been vetted through other fans (that I trust).

    Reply
  19. phl1rxd

    Hi Fangurl! I have two categories – PreFG and PostFG.

    PreFG – I would find an actor|actress I Iike and explore all their works. This did not always turn out as expected. 🙄
    PostFG – I first check with your Full List of Reviews first before making a decision! 😊 I watched all the As and then looked at the reviews of the Bs to see if I might be interested.

    Here are a few other things I have found helpful:

    I read every comment on this blog to see if there is any chatter on a drama that I might like. I pay attention when certain regulars comment on a drama being good, so I will dip my toe in the water to see if this is something I might like as well. It has proven to be highly successful.

    Sometimes I have to be in the mood for the genre of the drama. All of us have our preferred genre (mine being who-dunnits, wuxia, time travel and fantasy) but outside influences can affect that. For example, since mid summer I have been watching as many comedy dramas as I can find. This is due to my continuing CV-quarantine lethargy. Comedies lift my spirit and laughter really is the best medicine. If there are no new comedies out I will re-watch surefire classics. I also queue up dramas and will watch them when I am in the mood for the content. Right now I have a lot of classics in my queue (thanks to the wonderful suggestions I got from the great commenters on this site 😘) which I will start once I am ready.

    I pull a switcheroo! I will sometimes watch a few CDramas in a row and then go back to KDrama. I also will switch over to movies to fill in any gaps. I even watch very old Korean movies on YT. I usually drama watch every day but when I am in a rut I will turn off the TV and read, preferably a book that a drama I enjoyed was based on.

    Even with all that sometimes I find a bad apple in the bunch. I have gotten better at dropping (I am dropping a lot these days) dramas. But sometimes I find a jewel! I have also gotten better at researching posts on ‘dramas that will air soon’. I look at the actors and the summary of each show to ‘File for future reference’ or “Mark for the trash”.

    I regularly check your Patreon entries and read a little about the drama to see if I might like it.

    Bottom line is our time is important and drama selection can be a daunting task. This is why I appreciate the time and energy you have put into this site Fangurl. You saved us all so many ‘bad drama hours’. Seriously!

    Reply
    1. Elaine Phua

      Oh gosh, whodunits and wuxia were fusioned to nice effect in Ancient Detective which I just watched! Ha ha it wasn’t super excellent but it was very charming and light and entertaining. Only 24 episodes. I think the cast had nice chemistry together, lots of colorful and engaging supporting characters. What shows make your top list? 🙂

      Reply
      1. phl1rxd

        Hi Elaine! I have to break this down by country.

        CDrama – My top show is Nirvana in Fire. I dare not say how many times I have seen it. 😏 Read up to Chp160. So far 160 out of 174 chapters have been completed. It is a masterpiece. Then Story of Ming Lan and Longest Day in Chang’an.

        KDrama – Goblin, Kill Me Heal Me, Stranger S1 & 2

        JDrama – Takane no Hana but only for Pooh (Kazunobu Mineta) – the story was way too crazy Manga but I completely fell in love with his character. Then We Married As A Job

        TDrama – Meet me at 10:06 and In Time With You

        I completely agree with you on Ancient Detective. Yes Elaine, great cast! There was a blow up between the writer and director (or Producer I forgot) so we may not see S2 which is sad. 😥😪

        I read about another show – Of Monks and Masters – from Timescout who drops by here from time to time. I was so intrigued I watched some of it raw and I was hooked. It has wuxia, detectives and monks – totally up my alley. So sad that is not translated.

        Almost ever drama above was either reviewed by FG or recommended by one of the commenters. My list of “to be watched” is scary long.

        What is your favorite genre?

        Reply
  20. amanda hastings

    Hello,

    I’m so glad I found you, Kfangurl. I wait for your reviews then I go see the Show. I give it 4 episodes, then if I don’t like it, it’s dropped. I just don’t have 12 to 16 hours to spend on Shows. I should’ve found you before I spent so much time on The Heirs (my 4th Kdrama in and wanted to know what the fuss is about Lee Min Ho, I fell for Kang Ha Neul instead). Thank you for what you do and look forward to your reviews.

    A.

    Reply
  21. Snow Flower

    Another great post, KFG!

    My decision process is similar to yours. I know my favorite genres (history and mystery), but I like to try other genres too. I am currently watching Lie After Lie (melodrama) and DoDo Sol Sol La La Sol (romantic comedy) and find them both refreshingly old-fashionable. When I first started watching dramas, I was at stages 1 and 2 (Everything is so new and shiny and Oppa can do no wrong!) Now I pay particular attention to a drama’s writer.

    I also pay attention to other fans’ reactions.
    But every time I ask myself the questions: “Is this a story I want to see? Will it keep me emotionally invested? Will I want to watch it again?” Of course, the answers may depend on my current mood and may change over time.

    Reply
    1. Snow Flower

      I just broke my own rules! I started watching Search: WWW just because Lee Jae Wook was in it. I usually don’t watch work place dramas or noona romances, but the need for a LJW fix was too strong! I like the story of the drama so far too, plus Jang Ki Yong is in the drama, and I have nothing to complain about.

      Reply
      1. BE

        It’s funny, but my two all time favorite contemporary K dramas are My Mister, a workplace drama, and Secret Love Affair, a noona romance. Of course, the two of them take each of their genres (Secret Love Affair even throws in the Chaebol drama) and completely explode every single cliche to be found therein.

        Reply
        1. Snow Flower

          @BE, I watched and liked both My Mister and Secret Love Affair. These dramas were so much more than a workplace drama and Noona romance. I can say the same thing about “Search: WWW.” I see it as a portrayal of the complex relationship between the 3 female characters. Are they friends? Enemies? Rivals? Mentors to each other?
          The Noona romances are there, but they don’t feel forced. I also like the social media ethics angle.

          Have you seen “Masquerade,” an excellent movie with Lee Byung Hyun? Another very good period movie is “The Royal Tailor.” “The Throne” was already mentioned in another discussion here.
          Koreans truly excel in historical dramas and movies.

          Reply
          1. BE

            Love Masquerade and Lee Byung Hun’s version of that dual character was stunning, particularly the comedic turn he gave the clown’s role in the first part of the movie. And The Royal Tailor in which Han Suk Kyu plays lead support is a wonderful film, and I believe even those who do not care for sageuks would enjoy it. The ability to cover such a theme as the clothes designer who created a revolution in courtly garb for which the costuming of contemporary dramas centuries later owes a debt is so unique to South Korean sensabilities.
            I will once again pitch your way The Admiral:Roaring Currents with Choi Min Sik, the largest grossing film in S Korean history, albeit a straight up, almost all male naval battle war movie. Epic.
            I also liked The Last Princess with Son Ye Jin.

            Reply
            1. beez

              @BE – adding to your list – The Great Battle starring Jo In sung. He actually came across very warrior-ish, which really surprised me.

              Reply
  22. Adegoke Febisola

    For me, it is first the OTP chemistry- I live for believable and natural chemistry. Jung Hae In is pretty good at having awesome chemistry with his costars so I tend to watch anything I see him in. I also love Gong Yoo (Of course!)

    Next is the writing and its execution.

    Though I love OSTs and even have a collection on my playlist, I used to think music wasn’t so important till Something in the rain showed me how a terrible OST can ruin a drama. I hated that “sometimes its hard to be a woman” song!!! I legit cringed anytime it started. The soundtracks in that show made no sense to me.

    Totally agree with you on mood. I remember starting The Tale of Nodku and leaving it for weeks in just the first episode. I eventually returned to it and ended up really liking it.

    Reply
  23. BubbleTeaIcedAmericano

    This post was pretty thought-provoking for me. I looked back on my drama journey. I’ve been in the kdrama rabbit hole since early 2017, in my mid teenage years. I watched very few kdramas at the time, they weren’t my go-to entertainment. Another reason was that I only watched the subbed kdramas that would air on tv. My introduction to kdramas was with Descendants of the Sun, which blew my mind at the time and I still like it. Unfortunately for me, it was followed by boys over flowers and then heirs. I stuck with them till the end, I was not particularly pleased with the plot but they had good looking guys and I had hope that they would get better.Then came Playful Kiss, which I couldn’t tolerate and rolled my eyes at every other scene but saw it just because i was more than halfway through it. That was when my Phase-1 effectively ended.

    I took matters into my own hands and started watching kdramas in Korean with subtitles instead of dubbed versions that my dth network would provide. I started looking up popular kdramas lists and after one or two meh shows, I struck gold when I watched Strong Woman Do BongSoon, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo and Healer back to back. My drama journey has been pretty smooth since then. I never really had phase -2, I didn’t watch dramas of my biases just because they were in it except Melting Me Softly, because I had nothing better to watch back then and it was the one time I hoped that my oppa would have picked this show was a reason. Boy, was it a mistake. 
    When I have a slump, I watch variety shows or just watch American sitcoms to take a break. I took a break pretty recently after watching It’s Okay To Not Be Okay because I didn’t feel like watching anything and then I had exam season. 

    Now I’m watching a few currently airing shows, but there are more which have passed the ‘seems interesting I should give it a shot’ test  as they have generally good reviews and I liked their first few episodes I watched. There are also many other shows like flower of evil which I didn’t watch earlier. I’m drowning in shows at this point, only some of which I can continue. With dramaland pumping out shows and the barrage of assignments from college I’m quite literally torn because I have to pick and choose between so many shows for the first time. This is completely different from the dwindling interest you addressed, more like too much interest lol.

    Reply
  24. Sharra

    This is such an interesting post and I was reflecting on something similar. It recently took me 3 attempts to watch “When the Camellia blooms” and I am now watching “Love so beautiful”. I could tell they were going to be great dramas plus I trust the process i.e your reviews but was an immediate love? Not at all. But bizarrely now I grew to love the characters and even found myself thinking about them than the dramas I found easier to watch.

    One of the things I have learnt from you Kfangurl is adjusting the viewing lens and that has really improved my drama experience. It helps going with the flow. Also sometimes when I see a protagonist make poor decisions I think about how we all will have made decisions that we regret. It is human nature to be flawed

    Reply
    1. kfangurl Post author

      Hi there Sharra! That’s really so interesting, that even though it took you several attempts to get into When The Camellia Blooms and A Love So Beautiful, the characters linger with you even when you’re not watching! It really makes a case for not judging a drama too quickly, coz it might grow on you yet! 😃

      YAY that you find it useful to adjust your viewing lens, I feel like it’s helped me enjoy my drama journey so much more, and made it possible for me to enjoy so many more dramas as well! 🤗

      Reply
  25. Sharbani Mukhopadhyay

    Hi Kfangurl,
    Totally feel what you said about Kim Woo Bin in Uncontrollably Fond. It was a terrible idea to watch that drama because it only got from bad to shriekingly worse! Unfortunately I felt the same when I watched Ji Chang Wook in Melting Me Softly (did not pick up K2 because I’d heard it was pretty awful.) Let me just say though, that your reviews really help so thank you!

    Reply
    1. kfangurl Post author

      Hi there Sharbani, YES, it’s a terrible idea to watch a bad drama for the sake of having your bias on your screen. At least, that’s been my experience. It becomes so painful to get through the show! 😝😝 I wisely avoided Melting Me Softly, though I did attempt The K2, so it seems like our experiences weirdly balance out..? 😂

      PS: I’m super glad that you find the reviews helpful, it makes me feel useful! 😉

      Reply
  26. Growing Beautifully

    Great write up Kfangurl. I agree with you through and through.

    Sometimes when nothing makes it clear to me whether to watch a show or not, one nifty trick I try is to jump in at episode 3 or 4 (it can be any episode, 4 but not too far in so that too much plot has gone past) of the series, and see how I feel about it. If the characters do not annoy me and the little I can ‘catch’ of what goes on intrigues me to know more, then I may go to Episode 1 and start it properly. 🧐

    The reason for this method is that Ep 1 and 2 are usually set up episodes, so they may be slower on the plot or too over stuffed with intros to characters … whereas from Ep 3 onwards, the plot should have started moving apace. 🤔 🤗 🤭 🥱 😬 😲 😪

    That being said however, I still do prefer to start from Episode 1. However, if my interest starts to flag … I do the same thing. I let the show go for a few episodes and come back later. If it still does not hook me, then it’s ‘sayonara show’! LOL. 😄

    Reply
    1. kfangurl Post author

      Hi there GB! Always great to see you! 😃 That’s an interesting trick, jumping in at E3 or 4.. I think that’s worked for me once, when I jumped in on a random episode of Jang Ok Jung, Live in Love, and got sucked in. I then went back to the beginning and started over, and ended up enjoying the show quite well – while FF-ing through all the boring political stuff. Twas a great little find, all thanks to my random episode check.

      That said, I’ve only used it once, mostly because I agree with your last point. I, too, prefer to start from E1, after all. Maybe I ought to use your trick a little more often, since it’s worked so well for me before! 😅

      Reply
      1. Growing Beautifully

        Hey there kfangurl! It’s good to know that the random jump in can work for you too. I only tried it a couple of times, myself. LOL.

        BTW, I’m having trouble Liking any of the posts here. Is there any reason for a restriction?

        Catch ya later!

        Reply
  27. bubblebathdaisies

    Oh how I relate to the earlier bits of your post. Reading your blog at the same time as discovering dramas also converted me into a lifelong Kim Woo-bin cult member, but I have to admit that I actually loved Heirs when I watched it for the first time (I was like 13? and also extremely obsessed with bad romance Wattpad novels, so you see the correlation) Looking back, nearly everyone in that show sucked, except for Eun-sang’s mom and Bo-na and Chan-sung and Woob’s face (as much as I love him his character was basically an extremely hot bully.) For the first year or so I watched dramas, I would pick new ones based exclusively on how attractive the male lead was, which is a horrible, HORRIBLE strategy. I seriously do not recommend this (unless you’re getting over a breakup, are fourteen years old, or both) So this led to me getting bored of dramas quite quickly and having to invent new methods to get back into them, and my methods are actually quite similar to this! If anyone’s worrying about how long this method is, let me be the first to assure you that my attention span is ridiculously short and it still works brilliantly for me.

    I think another thing I usually do when I watch dramas is never justify why I’m watching it, if I enjoy it. It’s fine to recognize that a drama is, objectively, a steaming dumpster fire that makes regular appearances in Kfangurl’s nightmares, but as long as you personally enjoy watching it, why bother feeling judged or calling it a guilty pleasure? I learned this the hard way when I watched Misty (a great drama for other people, but far too depressing for me) instead of the far more fun The Great Seducer, which was an amazing trifecta of bad acting, bad writing and bad storylines, but I loved every second of it. And everyone loved Goblin, but the age gap kind of creeped me out (what would have changed by making Eun-tak an adult?) Your taste is your taste alone, and nothing can determine it 🙂

    Reply
    1. ngobee

      Hi bubblebathdaisies,

      loved your comment. Thank you for the term “extremely hot bully”. Yes.

      I also think that the amazing trifecta of bad writing, bad acting and bad storylines in The Great Seducer sounds like just my ticket. I’ve been toying with watching the series for some time. Now with corona measures being tightened again and more time at home this is a real option.

      That said, I don’t mind the alternatively heartbroken/stupidly in love 14-year old which kdramas tend to bring out in me. I must have missed her in my responsible, rational adult existence.

      Reply
    2. kfangurl Post author

      Ahaha, I’m amused that we both happily sat through Heirs for the love of Kim Woo Bin, even though it was a hot mess of a show! 😆😆 I am sure that I wouldn’t be able to repeat that feat of fangirl fortitude now, no matter how hot Kim Woo Bin looks in the show! 😜

      I like your stance of not justifying why you enjoy a show. I learned early on that my drama tastes buck the trend often enough, that I shouldn’t be too surprised when I love a show that everyone hates, or vice versa. I didn’t feel Goblin either, despite it featuring Gong Yoo, and despite just about everyone else loving it. Same thing with Mr. Sunshine and Six Flying Dragons. But, I’ve also learned that mood and timing can make a huge difference, so maybe one day I might just come around to these shows’ appeal. Never say never, eh? 😅

      Reply
    3. Snow Flower

      Bubblebathdaisies, if a drama makes you happy, it does not matter how bad everyone else says it is. I still regret watching Goblin. I was bored with it and did not drop it when I should have. But I liked Mr. Sunshine by the same writer. Many people were not happy with Memories of the Alhambra, but it made perfect sense to me.

      Reply
      1. beez

        @Snow Flower – Mr. Sunshine started out as a bit of a chore for me – pretty slow – but it was really worth sticking with it.

        Reply
      2. BE

        I found Goblin quite disappointing, but I have trouble in general with Korean fantasy writing in contemporary settings, Chicago Typewriter perhaps being an exception, and that worked far better in the past setting than the contemporary one. I believe same writers also did Descendants of the Sun, which was so cheesy, I could not make my way through it. But Mr. Sunshine, generally, setting aside the all star cast, and I do not think I have ever watched a better ensemble, and the beautiful cinematography, I could imagine a university senior level seminar devoted to analyzing the incredible use of plot devices of that show. A whole world history of theatrical techniques might be revelead in such an analysis.
        But tell me anything done by the writers or directors of Tree With Deep Roots, Six Flying Dragons, or Nokdu Flower, I will check it out for sure.

        Reply
        1. beez

          I think you mean that DOTS, Goblin and Mr. Sunshine all have the same writer. From the way you went from Chicago Typewriter to DOTS, it sounded like you were saying those two had the same writers but I don’t think that’s what you meant but I’m just tracking onto your comment fur those who might not know.

          Reply
          1. BE

            What I meant was that Goblin is a kind of fantasy genre in which the past and present get conflated by seemingly simultaneous supernatural realities (the recent Hotel Del Luna would be another example of such). It is a type of show, like hospital shows, I tend to find hard to get into. Not that Chicago Typewriter had the same screenwriter, but that the show was an exception to my taste in such. Sorry, as you can tell, I am given to asides. The main point was while I loved Mr. Sunshine, Goblin and DOTS, not at all.

            Reply
            1. beez

              Gotcha. I understood what you were saying about the nature of the fantasy dramas. I was more referring to the way your sentence was structured. You mentioned Chicago Typewriter and then said “the same writer…” so…

              Reply
        2. Snow Flower

          @BE, the writers of 6FD and Tree with Deep Roots also wrote Queen Seondeok, which is worth watching for its villain and anti-hero.
          The writer of Nokdu Flower is also the writer of Assembly and Jeong Do Jeon. I have not seen either of them, but I am interested in the latter. The historical setting is the same as Six Flying Dragons and My Country.

          Reply
          1. BE

            Sin Kyeong Soo was the same director for TWDR, 6FD & Nokdu Flower. Because for reasons I do not understand it seems impossible for me to get anything other than the horrible version of VIKI with its endless repeating ads and stallings out–I have tried a million times to subscribe but no go) I have found it difficult to see older sageuks, except on chancy online sites, and even then not always successfully. Thanks, I will keep an eye out for those you mentioned.

            Reply
            1. beez

              @BE – I also had a problem with Viki that went on for a couple of years. The videos would be static or frozen as long as I was signed in. But if I didn’t sign in, the videos would play just fine, but I’d be stuck with the ads. Their customer service was ZERO help. They would send me an auto response asking for my internet speed, version of Viki, type of device I was watching on. I’d respond with the info. But then the very next email (after waiting again for an answer) would ask me the same questions. Recycle-repeat. This was in spite of me answering in all caps in red font “I NEED A HUMAN BEING” and some other choice words. I eventually became so frustrated that I unsubscribed. They finally got around to fixing the app on the Amazon firestick, after 3 years, and so I recently subscribed again.

              I can only say their customer service was much better before they were bought by Rakuten.

              Reply
          2. BE

            Just watched episode one of Jeong Do Jeon. Interesting. Spectacle of old school sageuk, no doubt. A bit overwrought OST and atmospherics, but I suppose that and the somewhat stilted dialogue comes with the old school territory. Biggest problem for me is that it is 50 episodes long. 2 years into 6 Flying Dragons, I still have fourteen episodes to go, and I love 6 Flying Dragons. Watching Episode one of Jeong Do Jeon made me want to go back and finish 6 Flying Dragons as well as leaving me apprehensive of getting through this, which to be honest while intriguing, does in the initial episode seem a cut under the other.

            Nonetheless, I like the focus on Sambong–only in Korea, it strikes me, would a scholar be a hero out of history, legend, and folklore. And in episode one, there is an origin story of Sambong and Poeun as young man and youth. Don’t wish to spoil it for you, but just let’s say, as a poet myself, I, likewise, got a kick of their early encounter as part of a popular entertainment.

            The fall of Goryeo, origins of Joseon, is such a rich story telling vein for its characters. I appreciated Jang Hyuk as Bang Won (and Kim Yeong Cheol as Yi Seong Gye) in My Country. Indeed, I feel the two of them were far and away the most interesting, let alone best enacted, part of the drama, one in which there were actually believable causes of their conflict. I felt it a grandiose error of the writers to elevate of the role of Nam Jeon, especially without the context of his role in the overthrow of Goryeo, and the diminuation of Sambong into almost no more than a vapor, as well as the total absence of the other great folkloric heroes Lee Bang Ji and Moo Hyul, both far more swashbuckling than either of the two leads, and given how Jang Hyuk continually upstaged them all the way through were thus elided from the telling.

            This is an epic history, filled with complexity and tragedy, heroes and villains, and those a complex ball of both, rich with opportunity for exploration of the themes of power, virtue, and class, and characterizations that ought to be every serious actor’s dream (I am waiting for Choi Min Sik to be given the opportunity to play Yi Seong Gye).

            I do wonder if in Bulgaria there is any epic historical dramatizations or folkloric kinds of story telling that lead you to this. I can say for myself, the antecedents to my interest would be Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Kurosawa and Mifune in Samurai films, and as an American who grew up when I did, American western movies, as well as sword and sandals epics.

            Reply
            1. Snow Flower

              @BE, I just like history and historical fiction. Bulgaria has a rich a very tragic history, which, unfortunately, has not been captured on film with much success, mostly because of the censorship during totalitarian times.There were some historical epics produced during the 1980s, but I suspect they will feel too outdated and politicized now. Currently, there are no financial resources nor public interest to justify producing anything like Korean historical movies, let alone TV dramas. Sometimes I am envious of countries with historically developed high culture that still provides inspiration for various art forms. Because Bulgaria was occupied by the Ottoman Empire in the late 1300s, we were cruelly denied the continuation and development of such culture. Our folk culture could provide a very fertile source of inspiration, especially for fantasy, horror, and magical realism.

              I assume that Jeong Do jeon is available on the site that should not be named?

              Reply
              1. BE

                I do not know if the site of beginning with D and ending with L is the one of which you speak. It is accessible on my internet, albeit sometimes not so much, and way more so than Viki, which is supposed to be legit, but I have no idea how to see anything on that site. There are a couple of others accessible to me on line, but I do not know whether they are pirates or not, each of them having a very large catalog.

                By the way, during the Iron Curtain years, on the Orient Express, I traveled through Bulgaria on my way to Istanbul. Officials got on the train and took my passport as we entered the country. I was 23, pretty darn naive, and it made me quite apprehensive when my passport was not returned till we were about to leave the country. It was on a day of gloomy weather out the window, and all I got to see looking out was semi industrial sections of the country, the whole atmosphere was right out of American paranoia about eastern Europe. Alas.

                I had a wonderful, wonderful student from Bulgaria, who came to the US because he got a job as a waiter on the Queen Mary somehow. He had been a French horn player in the national orchestra. After the semester was over he took me out to dinner at a fancy Napa Valley restaurant where he was working at the time as a waiter. I would have to say that was one of the high points of my teaching career. We ate and drank together for hours and he told me the most wonderful stories about himself, which made me wistful that I did not take the time to get off the train, if they would have allowed me to do so, stay for a while and meet people.

                There have been a lot of histories done of the American revolutionary war and civil war, but even with historically famous characters, they do not seem to have the same all around gusto of sageuks. They could, but the American sensibility is so much about winners that the more tragic, complex, and humane elements of those histories are often elided. We would not want to show George Washington before the revolution as an English general sacking a Seneca village and burning down their cherry orchards.

                Some films from the perspective of indigenous peoples are pretty good, but so much of that history still remains uncharted in film, and so much more in which the native people have been stereotyped right out of reality. There is a great film based on a Texan corrido (folk ballad), The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez that goes to the heart of some of the worst parts of our history, a quite moving tragedy.

                There are great and terrible stories about the Chinese building the American railroad in the nineteenth century or Filipinos working in the agricultural fields in the early twentieth, but none have made it to film. There have been some films that have attempted to address the internment of Japanese Americans during WW 2. Americans have a very hard time reflecting on the thornier issues of being human through our history. We just like to think of ourselves as the good guys. And we are paying for that desire to paint ourselves thus in our current state of affairs.

                Well, we are just at the beginning of a time when access to history and folk lore has become so easy. If we do not make a complete mess of being human, perhaps your nation’s time for such will come.

                Reply
                1. beez

                  @BE – I’m happy to know you BE. I appreciate, so much, people who have lived and seen so much.

                  You are so right about American films bring homogenized out of political correctness until they’re not historical. Don’t get me wrong, as a minority myself, I am all for political correctness when it come to inclusion and not being ignorantly rude to other races. But most people don’t know when being PC is called for and when it’s just weak pandering.

                  For an example, I watched the mini series entitled “The Yellow Rose of Texas”. Based on the song and the little known folk lore that the Yellow Rose was a “high yalla” (high yellow) black woman who kept Santa Ana “busy” while the Texas troops surrounded him. I’d read several stories about this woman named Emily Morgan West so I was very excited to watch. Unfortunately, show totally screwed up as they tried to be politically correct: 1) they made the character a prostitute when there was nothing in the lore to indicate that she was (this is where they should have erred on the side of PC caution, in my opinion); but then even worse, 2) before she even became a hero, they had white cowboys tipping their hats and calling her “ma’am”. Huh? That would not have happened unless she ran into a group of Quaker Abolitionist and even then I doubt it. My point is to do something like my second example is to sugar coat history and it doesn’t do minorities any favors where average people, who only get their history from movies and television, will be “so what’s their beef?”

                  I also hate when anyone, of any race, thinks it’s racist to use race as a descriptor. My D-I-L has a volley ball team mate who is Asian and sometimes when she’s talking about her teammates and says “this guy on my team…” and it’s obvious she’s searching for a way to tell me which guy, and after a while of uncomfortable silence as she stiutters & stumbles, I’ll say “the Asian one?” and she’ll say “yes”. It’s no different than saying “you know the one with blonde hair” or any other distinguishing feature. But alas, she’s a millennial and they have their own issues just like we older folks. ☺

                  I also hate when authors or scriptwriters write something that reflects total ignorance of even not that long ago. I’ve read in books and seen on tv, time periods set in the far past and even in1950’s or 60’s where a character refused a drink because she’s pregnant. Ridiculous! The dangers of drinking while pregnant weren’t known by scientists until the late 80’s. I firmly believe it’s because young people no longer listen to what anyone over 40 has to say. If you experienced the world before tech, you have nothing of value for them to hear.

                  Reply
                  1. BE

                    Thanks Beez. I was thinking this AM, K I believe is in Singapore, and Snow Flower in Bulgaria. The WOW! of that. A favorite poet of mine is the great Russian poet Osip Mandelstam who died on a prison march to Siberia during the Stalin years (for writing a blistering poem about Stalin–“he rolls the executions on his tongue like berries;/ he wants to hug them like big friends from home”) who once opined, “I have a homesickness for world culture.”

                    Aren’t we fortunate that K has given us this forum covering K-drama that invites an international commentary? And I might add that South Korea is such a fertile spot on earth for popular entertainment story telling, acting, directing that is so inviting to us all.

                    I agree that anachronism in historical drama, if the telling is meant to be straightforward (rather than as a comedic vehicle as in Sungkyunkwan Scandal), is annoying. Last year I read a book about the WW2 era and the main character referred to herself over and over by her first initial followed by a foreshortening of her last name–J-Bride–a distinctly hip hop/pop culture idiom. Drove me nuts.

                    We have a tough time as Americans dealing with the complexity of being human. I would recommend to you and Snow Flower a great, great recent history novel by the magical Louise Erdrich, The Night Watchman. History told on a human scale.

                    Reply
                    1. Snow Flower

                      @BE, I live in the US now, so I am familiar with American history and culture too (maybe not in depth though). I find kdramas very relatable, because they deal with universal topics, while at the same time staying grounded in Korean culture. That’s a quality of great art. Even if a drama is less than stellar, watching it can still be a learning and fun experience.

                    2. Natalia

                      To add to the discussion, do you ever wonder whether Korean culture as we see it in dramas is the real thing?

                    3. beez

                      Haha! I think it’s probably similar to American tv. Some truths but a lot of glossing over. I’d guess, depending on the characters’ economic status, there’s a variety of shows we can point to – like the hum drum office life of Misaeng and the office life and street life of characters in My Mister (which was quite varied from office workers to building cleaners). I doubt if my chosen genre – romcoms – are showing me any “reality”. I also watch the YouTube channel called Asian Boss. They conduct man on the street interviews of citizens throughout Asia but the majority of the interviews seem to be in South Korea. It’s interesting to hear young people refer to S.K as “Hell Joseon” as far as trying to find a job after the intense studying they’ve done throughout the first quarter of their lives.

                    4. BE

                      @Snow Flower and Natalia
                      I do not think fictional drama is necessarily so much literally factual, but it does provide some historical realities, the relationship between Korea and Japan, and to a lesser degree China, and attitudes contemporary Koreans have about those relationships. There is also an ongoing critique vis a vis class, social injustice, the love, sometimes obsession with money, bitterness and envy side by side with admiration, not to mention historical tragedy, that given its pervasiveness, reflects something about South Korean culture that is heroically unapologetic for a popular cultural expression. Also the sense of love of family sitting side by side with the constriction of family loyalty. And finally, something that really attracts me, is the valuation of scholarship, intellect, art and artistic talent, all without being highbrow, that I find very appealing.
                      And ah, Snow Flower, sorry then if I was being pedantic about American culture. I am third generation here, myself.

                    5. beez

                      @BE – I Googled the book – 454 pages. I’ll be honest and say I won’t be reading it. 😕 I have the hardest time reading even Kfangurl’s reviews and remembering what she said (I’ll jot down notes to the points of the review that I want to comment on). And for writing my longer responses to comments. I have a dual screen attached to my phone so that I can see the comments that I’m replying too because if there’s more than one point they made that I want to address, once I’ve written my answer to the first point I can’t remember the second, and definitely not the third.

                      I can no longer read anything of length because after a few paragraphs, I forget what I read earlier. With Kdramas, if I don’t binge straight through, I always have to start the last episode I watched and fast forward through, stopping here and there to remember when I am in the story and absolutely must watch the last 10-15 minutes of the episode where I left off the night before. So it’s not that I don’t take your book recommendation seriously. I just don’t want to pretend as if I’ll read it when I won’t. 😕

                1. BE

                  @Beez. Do you listen to audio books? The author reads The Night Watchman, which helps because her Minnesotan accent and Native American speaking inflections really bring the whole thing to life. FYI

                  Reply
                  1. beez

                    No. Unfortunately – same problem. The guys here on the site are pretty tolerant of my memory and asking them the same things over again. My memory can be gone, but the minute I’m rewatching or someone describes a scene, usually it will come back to me. But before that, it’s just a blank. The things that I learned before I got sick are still pretty available to my recall, although not as clear as it once was. And new things seem to stick based on how I felt about them or if I enjoyed them so much that I rewatched it a number of times (which I’ll do if I’m afraid I’m losing the memory of one of my favorites).

                    Reply
                    1. phl1rxd

                      Beez – I remember better those things that will evoke a feeling as well. Just tell yourself that ‘it is now time for me to enjoy life in each present moment’. Eckhart Tolle without trying – at least that is what I tell myself. 😁😁😁

                      Love me some Asian Boss as well!

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