Stories from the community: Shahz’s story!

If you didn’t already know, we’ve got a special series to kick off the new year! Guests posts, by patrons on Patreon, sharing their personal drama stories, mostly around the topic of “How did you get into dramas?” and “What does your first drama mean to you?” – with flexibility to go off on personal tangents, of course. 😁 Feel free to share your stories too, in the comments!

This guest series is MC‘s brainchild (thanks MC! 😘), and you can read more details, and check out her inaugural post here, and Sean‘s post here. After today’s post, there will be six more guest posts by mystery guest writers, whose identities will be revealed when their various posts go live. Woot! 🥳

Today’s post is brought to you by Shahz, whom, as you might remember, was the brains behind our year-end wrap-up party, with all the guest posts and the poll as well – thanks Shahz! ❤️

I’m extra touched that Shahz took the time to write today’s post, because she’s been feeling under the weather lately, after her booster shot, AND YET, she gave the time and energy, to share her story. Thank you for digging deep for this, for us, Shahz. LOVE YA. ❤️

I hope you guys enjoy!

~ KFG ❤️

Hi it’s Shahz again!

For someone who lurked around for a whole year on Fangirl’s website in 2020, I can’t quite believe I am writing my second blog. I feel immensely privileged to be able to share my thoughts again because of a wonderful idea generated by MC around the power of stories.

So some of you may have read my first blog based on my year-end awards and will know that I live in the North West of England, and yes, I am still cold! This would have been a slightly longer post, but I am under the weather following my Covid booster.

Connecting with my heritage through dramas

Although I only started watching K dramas in 2020, I have actually been watching dramas on and off, since I was child, but of the Pakistani version with, of course, copious amounts of Bollywood films, as my parents are from Pakistan.

And although the subcontinent can be divided places, I think most people across the subcontinent would recognise that Pakistani dramas, particularly of yesteryear, are high calibre.

Unfortunately, I don’t watch Pakistani dramas as much anymore, because I find they are now highly regressive, where the dramas of my parents’ generation carried strong women empowerment messages.

In case you are wondering, my favourite drama to this day, remains Humsafar, which you can find on Netflix. Give it a go for the gorgeous Fawad Khan, and stay for a strong performance by Mahira Khan, who grows from a naive young girl, to a strong empowered mother.

Apparently streets were empty in Pakistan when this finale of the show was on, and it took other parts of Asia and Dubai by storm as well.

Fawad Khan will also apparently be appearing in Ms. Marvel but I have to say, my dream is to see him in a K drama crossover, because he was made for swoon.

I might have given up Pakistani dramas but I still love Pakistani Pop/Rock so do let me know if you have any recommendations in the comments box for me to check out!

The missing connection

So anyone from a second generation immigrant family will understand the “not quite fitting in.

You grew up in a household with different cultural values and expectations from the country you were born in, and you are trying to straddle both cultures. You respect and admire certain elements of your parents’ culture, but also, it can be at odds with views you have developed  and hold dear in the West.

This is why K dramas, and then C dramas, became so important to me, because they provided that missing connection.

You will often see that K dramas deal with societal and family pressure, all in the midst of working, dating and simply just trying to be. And much to my surprise, I actually found I had more in common with this foreign culture than the two cultures I was born into, because I understood the real disconnect between family responsibility, and being true to oneself.

Don’t just survive  but thrive

Misaeng: learning to thrive

Over 7 years, I have had to deal with some very traumatic events. My life story would probably make one of those awful True Movies you see, but despite that, I am eternally grateful that I have had the resilience to survive.

Watching K dramas such as My Mister, Lost, and Misaeng made me intrinsically understand that I needed not only to survive but I owed it to myself to thrive. In the pandemic, it is hard to take any practical steps, such as a desire to travel, but as our beloved dramas tell us, it is one step at a time, and there are always second chances in life.

Although I could talk for hours about My Mister, Lost and Misaeng, I thought I would draw your attention to two dramas and leads that perhaps don’t get the air time they deserve.

It is never too late….

Second 20’s / Twenty again (Available on Netflix)

This is the drama I would recommend that anyone embarking on a relationship/having children watch, and anyone who has lost themselves in parenthood/relationships watch.

[MODERATE SPOILERS] The gorgeous Choi Ji Woo plays a woman who has completely  lost herself in her marriage and parenthood. Under-appreciated by her cheating husband and son, it takes a shock misdiagnosis to re-evaluate her life and start again. [END SPOILER]

Is No Ra’s decision making frustrating at times? Yes, but who hasn’t regretted their decisions? At the heart of the show is the idea that it is never too late to find yourself, and joy in what you do.

KFG gave the show an A, with, “Sweet and cute, but more importantly uplifting and inspiring.”

Also, this was my first experience with Lee Sang Yoon, who does a wonderful job of being a grumpy male lead who does his best to empower No Ra in her journey, and try to get her to rediscover the girl she was.

Word of warning, he comes across as someone who is quite awful in the initial episodes, but part of the joy of the show, is watching his layers unravel. And you know all he wants is the best for No Ra.

And take a look at those dimples!

Da dimples 🤩

Be a little bit braver

My other favorite female lead is Park Eun-bin as Chae Song-ah in Do you like Brahms?. I like the facts that the show is a romance and that Song- Ah is a deeply introverted individual, and not your typical plucky heroine, because the introvert is often overlooked as a potential strong and empowered female lead.

I have nothing in common with Song Ah; I am not creative, nor am I introverted, but I would go as far as to say she is my favourite female lead in drama land. And why is that, you may ask? Well, simply put, she gives everything up to pursue her dreams. She knows she doesn’t have the talent compared to others, but she persists in pursuit of her passion.

Many of us who have stable careers and a pressure to provide for our families, will never realise that passion, but that doesn’t mean we underestimate the bravery of those who pursue their dreams. And here is hoping that  by watching Song Ah we are all that little bit braver….

KFG’s review is here.

Unexpected self-discovery

So who hasn’t watched a drama and thought, that is me, or that has happened to me? Much to my surprise, was my self discovery that, oh no, I am a cold-hearted male lead!

This makes me laugh as I write this, because I am quite feminine. Although, for the record I can stand up for myself and others, should the need arise, but nevertheless, people would say I am girly and sociable. Yet, every time I’ve watched a K drama, I’ve felt an emotional connection with the cold-hearted male lead, and not the plucky heroine.

Alarm bells rang seriously, when I realised that I had an affinity to those tsundere males, not because I wanted to change them, but because I inwardly had the same personality traits.

Through these leads, it helped me vocalise that, where I saw independence, in fact, there were deep-seated psychological trust issues that on the surface nobody could see, and they didn’t just go back to the last decade but to my childhood.

Would I have realised this without K dramas? Probably, but it might have taken even more years to unearth and then put into words.

Eh, who needs self-help books when drama will suffice?

My gateway drama

Lee Seo Jin as a cold-hearted male lead in Marriage Contract

Which leads me on to my gateway drama Marriage Contract and of course my first cold-hearted male lead Lee Seo Jin as Ji Hoon.

I remember being fascinated by  his personal growth. Show does a great job of showing that he is a product of his upbringing. He hasn’t seen what a nurturing relationship looks like, but in walks terminally ill Hye Soo, with her cute but strong-willed daughter Eun Sung, and through  a contract marriage and an initially fraught relationship with Eun Sung, we get to see Ji Hoon deeply care and fall in love with the two women in his life.

As much as the OTP are swoony, I adored Ji Hoon’s relationship with Eun Sung the most. Both of them go from not trusting each other very much, to a deeply loving relationship. Just a warning that this show isn’t for the fainthearted, and it is most definitely a weepie, but if you are brave enough, the acting is so rewarding.

The dramas that bring me comfort

There are two dramas that bring me joy despite being silly on the surface, and they are Secret Garden and You’re Beautiful.

Both shows, yes, you have guessed it, have cold male leads, but through the shows you watch them discover new versions of themselves, overcoming their upbringing, and more importantly, overcoming their self-imposed belief that it is better not to love, than to have loved and lost.

Both shows are over a decade old, and I only watched them in the last two years, but I watch them biannually. And you may laugh (for those who have seen the show) when I tell you that Jang Keun Suk’s portrayal of Tae Kyung gave me a personal breakthrough on my view on relationships, and where that stemmed from.

And I will forever love that pout……

That iconic pout..

The power of connection

Finally, as I sign off, I wanted to express my gratitude to KFG and the community here and over at Patreon.

Countless times I have come across deeply insightful thoughts and comments that make me take a sharp intake of breath, as they cut straight through the heart of the matter. We may never meet unless KFG holds a KFG convention, but you will always share an important part of my personal narrative to healing.

And a huge shout out to my bestie JJ, who brings me so much joy with her kind and thoughtful interactions to dramas. Sending you the Galaxy!

Do let me know in the comments what surprising revelation you had from a drama and how that shaped/made you change the way you viewed things…

~Shahz

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j3ffc
j3ffc
7 months ago

Hey, JJ Shahz! Sorry to be so late in responding, but I finally had a chance to get to your post. Thanks for sharing your story…it is sooo interesting that you identify with the tsundere characters and touching to know that dramas have helped you work through issues in your own life. It is a lot of ask of art to inform our own world views, but magical when it happens.

So Secret Garden is a biannual event for you? Wow. I watched it last year simply because I had seen Ha Ji Won on the reality series House on Wheels and just thought she was awesome sauce. It was an enjoyable watch for me, and it was absolutely fascinating to see Hyun Bin a young tsundere male – so much less appealing than his much more masculine role in Crash Landing on You. And I was a little disappointed that HJW’s character started out so badass but didn’t stay that way as the show went on. But I can definitely understand how you would consider it as drama comfort food (especially considering the secondary characters, all of whom I really enjoyed).

And, hey, I just started Do You Like Brahms and am really enjoying it so far (hard to follow My Mister and Someday or One Day). I am a definitely Park Eun-bin fan and it’s great to see her as the lead, not least b/c she is really killing it.

Thanks again for the post and here’s to a better 2022 for you. 

Shahz
Shahz
7 months ago
Reply to  j3ffc

🤣 yes believe it or not JJ and I are different people!
And apologies for the late reply I am finally starting to feel better.
Hoping you are still enjoying Do you like Brahms.

Ele Nash
7 months ago

I enjoyed reading your kdrama journey, Shahz – but darn it, Humsafar isn’t on UK Netflix, and I was all ready to give it a whirl having never watched a Pakistani drama before. The pout is great and like you, I often identify with the more awkward characters rather than the overtly bubbly ones 😌

beez
8 months ago

Enjoyed reading about your somewhat unique journey with Kdramas, Shalz. And of all the good ideas floating around KFG’s site these days – a KFG convention! Bravo!

Shahz
Shahz
7 months ago
Reply to  beez

Wouldn’t a convention be fantastic!

Su San
Su San
8 months ago

Such a heartwarming post–thank you for sharing. Your thoughts are expressed so beautifully.

Shahz
Shahz
7 months ago
Reply to  Su San

Thanks Su San! I really appreciate it.

Leslie
Leslie
8 months ago

I was so moved by your post, Shahz. Thank you for putting your story, and yourself, out there. When fans are in the midst of exchanging thoughts about a show or an actor, there’s a bit of an assumption that we’re sharing a similar lens in the discussion. That’s an overstatement, so I guess what I mean is, that in the absence of knowing someone else’s lens, we often default to our own. With just a few paragraphs, you’ve reminded us that it’s a foolhardy assumption! How interesting it will be to take that awareness into future discussions here on the blog and on Patreon. (And, well, anywhere.)

Thanks for your thoughts on Pakistani drama. I’ve added Hamsafar to my list of new things to try. Second 20s sounds interesting, but since I’ve just wept my way through my second watch of My Mister (wept in a good way), I may put that one on pause.😉 Misaeng is moving up the board.

Here’s to feel fit as a fiddle very soon.

Leslie
Leslie
8 months ago
Reply to  Leslie

feeling fit as a fiddle

Shahz
Shahz
7 months ago
Reply to  Leslie

Thank you Leslie. Finally on the road to recovery. Still feeling fragile though.
Grr with Netflix! I will see if if I can find you a link through You Tube.
And also I read your post and love the fact that you travel so much! I plan to travel in the next two years or so and will be coming to you for travel tips!

J Marie
J Marie
8 months ago

I enjoyed reading your post and love the dramas you mentioned. Your story of “not quite fitting in” really spoke to me. I grew up in Hawaii which is a melting pot of mostly Asian and Pacific Islander cultures, but now live in the middle of the United States. There are so many things I miss about the islands (family, friends and FOOD) but I really miss seeing people who look like me and have similar cultural values. I’ve been watching Asian dramas for almost ten years now and it brings so much joy to my life.
A special thank you for showing some love for You are Beautiful! Love Rain was my gateway drama (highly recommend) which I immediately followed up with You are Beautiful just so I could keep watching Jang Keun Suk. Not only is there a tsundere ML but there are not one but two 2nd leads! I still find it soo interesting that Jang Keun Suk portrays the main singer while the other two bandmates are actual lead singers in real life. Whenever, I see Lee Hong-Gi perform, I still yell out “Jeremy”! It was so cool to see that he sang at Park Shin Hye’s wedding. This drama has one of my favorite OSTs of all time.
I wasn’t really active on Patreon until I watched Lost. It was really nice to find people who love that drama as much as I do. The insights shared by FG and the rest of the Patreon community really enhanced my viewing and subsequent re-watches. I’m still not quite over that drama yet but the Red Sleeve is definitely helping!  
Thank you for sharing your story and I look forward to reading everyone else’s post this month. 

Shahz
Shahz
7 months ago
Reply to  J Marie

Hello! And apologies for the late reply it has just taken me ages to recover.
Big hug around the shared experience around not fitting in.
I haven’t given Love Rain ago because it had such mixed reviews. So may give it ago.
And I adored Lost! I was so obsessed with everything about it!

Alexandra
Alexandra
8 months ago

Thank you for your post! The only Pakistani drama Ive watched is Zindagi Gulzar Hai and I liked it, although I felt the ML and FL reamained too stiffed with eachother until the very end. I tried to find Humsafar but, unfortunately, there is nowhere to be found with English subs.

Shahz
Shahz
7 months ago
Reply to  Alexandra

Hey Alexandra. Sorry for the late response. I will keep in eye out for Humsafar and if I see a link that works I will share it with you.
I also found ZGH lacking actually found it quite regressive in parts!
But FK did look amazing 😂

Trent
8 months ago

Great post, Shahz. Love how you give some insight into the second generation immigrant experience and how kdramas have been a bridge for you.

I definitely had Brahms on my list after seeing Hot Stove League and The King’s Affection recently, and your praise has redoubled my intention to move it up the list! PEB is really great, isn’t she?

Thank for sharing!

jaco_4950
jaco_4950
8 months ago

Really enjoyed your post. Thank you.

Natalia
Natalia
8 months ago

That was such a lovely post, Shahz. Actually, it was so good I enjoyed it even if I have watched maybe 1 show (and not even complete) among the ones that I watched. ❤

Natalia
Natalia
8 months ago
Reply to  Natalia

“Among the ones that you mentioned”. Ha ha, no edit button!

KS
KS
8 months ago

Hi Shahz,
Nice post !!
You mentioned that you watch or rather used to watch Pakistani dramas and Humsafar being your favorite one. So I’m curious to know, did you , by any chance , watch “Dhoop Kinare”, an absolute brilliant Pakistani drama featuring Rahat Kazmi and Marina Khan ?
I watched the show recently and loved it a lot.

Take care n get better soon.

Shahz
Shahz
8 months ago
Reply to  KS

Hey KS!
I have watched Dhoop Kinare! A few times in fact and love it. It’s one of the shows that is a classic. Have you watched Tanhaiyan? That’s another very old show but so worth it.

Martina Conte
Martina Conte
8 months ago

i like your post so much…😍😍😍

Shahz
Shahz
8 months ago
Reply to  Martina Conte

Thank you Martina!

MC
MC
8 months ago

Hey Shahz thanks for sharing and being so vulnerable and open! I’m glad you made your way through the hard times. And the booster and 2nd jabs were terrible for me too, so I totally get you. I hope you feel better now!

You are really enticing me to watch 20s again and Do you like brahms? And Lost, of course. I have so many shows to watch and so little time!

Take care!!

Shahz
Shahz
8 months ago
Reply to  MC

Thank you MC. I am on the mend! Do give the shows ago . I definitely think you will find them both really interesting. Some really good lessons in Second 20s!

Shama
Shama
8 months ago

You had me at Humsafar! I love Fawad Khan! Imagine him in a Kdrama! I love the affinity between Indian/ Pakistani culture andKorean culture. Here’s to many many more lovely hours of Kdrama watching!

Shahz
Shahz
8 months ago
Reply to  Shama

Thank you Shama! Hopefully we will see a crossover. I tell you FL is made for K drama. Can you imagine the swoon❤️

uyen
8 months ago

Loved this, thanks for sharing Shahz! I totally loved Second 20s and your take on Do You Like Brahms makes me think I might like it too, so will try it out sometime

Shahz
Shahz
8 months ago
Reply to  uyen

Hey Uyen. Yay glad you liked Second 20s! Definitely give Brahms ago. I wasn’t sold on the romance element as others but I do loved Song Ah.

lotusgirl
lotusgirl
8 months ago

Lovely job, Shahz! I was surprised that you were a cold hearted male!😘 I see you as so warm hearted in your Patreon posts. I also loved Park Eun Bin in Do you like Brahms? For the same reasons. She is so determined, but in the end she does bow to her limitations and finds some that combines her passion and her skills.

Shahz
Shahz
8 months ago
Reply to  lotusgirl

Thank you Lois and both points! Song Ah is such a special character isn’t she?!

JJ
JJ
8 months ago

@Shahz – Awwww, Shahz what a beautiful post which made me teary eyed at times, laugh, feel a warmth in my heart and most of all made me want to send a Hug to you. Thank you for being so open and honest in your Journey with Kdramas and how they have brought you healing and understanding ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Looking forward to watching Secret Garden with you as well as You’re Beautiful!

🌌✨🌌✨Sending you the Galaxy, too, Bestie 🌌✨🌌✨

🥰

Shahz
Shahz
8 months ago
Reply to  JJ

Big hug my lovely! Sending you the Galaxy can’t wait for your post tomorrow!

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
8 months ago

@Shahz – first and foremost, I am sending you ‘get better’ energy. I was in bed after all three of my shots so I can empathize. I feel ya Shahz. I appreciate you working through it to create this post.

Second – this is a lovely post and I appreciate you sharing your story. I like how you related your journey in KDrama to your own story. I think we all find something deeper in Kdrama, something that talks to our heart and soul and inspires us to keep going on when things get tough. There is a lot of love in KDrama.

I did take a look at the trailer for Humsafar. I just can’t seem to find it with Eng subs. It looks like Netflix has dropped it from their roster of shows in 2022. Hopefully I will find it with English subs.

A KFG convention – Shahz, you cracked me right up with this. Can you imagine the lovely madness of that? 💥 We would all be talking at once and for a long, long time.

I want to let you (and JJ) know how very much I love your posts on Patreon. When I am having a tough day I go there and get re-charged. Thanks for that! 💖💖

Rest up and feel better soon!

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
8 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Yes, I did mean to say yes to the KFG convention as well. I am more than happy to let you guys do all the talking 😂😂😂

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
8 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

Sean – you must bring the guitar! And Lovely L and please, Famous S.

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
8 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Absolutely 😉😊😎

JJ
JJ
8 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

– Awwww, thank sso much phl1rxd! We love when you come join us on the Drama Exchange. Your wuxia posts on Word of Honor were amazing. I was sorry to see them stop. We will have to find another one we can watch all together 🙂

I am so in for the KFG convention!!! Sign. Me. Up!

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
8 months ago
Reply to  JJ

JJ – No one was more bummed at WOH than I was. I was really invested in it, so the pain was harder to bear. Some dramas will do that to you. The more you stinking love them, the harder it is to take it if the writing gets cray-cray. It can break your heart.

Let me know if and when you decide to catch The Imperial Coroner. I am all in for that greatness. Shahz has to get better first. 🙏

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
8 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

I would love to troop watch Imperial Coroner too! Heard its good!

Shahz
Shahz
8 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Aw you are so sweet! I am on the mend but zero energy. Hopefully in February we will back to firing up Patreon on again!!
Still need to watch Imperial Coroner.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
8 months ago

Thank you Shaz for sharing your experience! Indeed it is very intriguing when the characters who resonate most with us are not necessarily the ones we are meant to be rooting for!

Shahz
Shahz
8 months ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Exactly Elaine! Sometimes it is the characters that appear the most frivolous and they bring so much learning and fun with them!

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
8 months ago

What a lovely story you share about yourself and your drama experiences, Shahz and I am very intrigued by what you said about Pakistani dramas 😊

With Marriage Contract my notes show: A balanced start, funny at times. It is tearful. I like how they treated the end to the story. I am currently watching Uee in Ghost Doctor and tossing up whether to watch LSJ’s new drama Dr Park’s Clinic.

The great thing about “cold hearted male leads” is their path to self discovery. I guess my favourite CHML is Jo Si Sub in Master’s Sun.

Choi Ji Woo is wonderful and I tend to watch what she is in. As for Park Eun-bin, she was very good in The King’s Affection, but the show for me that showed her real talent was Hot Stove League. The world is her oyster now, I think.

So sorry to hear about you being under the weather due to the COVID booster. I find this interesting as we are opening our borders here soon and I am madly running around rolling out advice around the various mandates in place. On another note, I wouldn’t mind some of your cold weather my way at the moment as we are going through our second heat wave of the summer.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
8 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

Sean – I read the other day that temps had gone well over 100 in W Aus and it is not even February yet. Stay cool – 😎😎

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
8 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Phl – it was 108 when I got home last night after being away for three days. And it’s going to be about 104 today and through the weekend. It was 113 Christmas Day at our place. So, yes, staying cool is a priority along with wearing Hawaiian shirts even when I’m on Zoom or Teams 😎😎😎

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
8 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

Wow Sean – that is hot! 🔥🔥🔥 I cannot even imagine 108 at night. High noon, maybe, but at night? That is nuts. Christmas temp just blows my mind…

Hmm, now if it was that hot where I lived, I would crank up the AC and turn on the dramas. 🙄🤔🙄🤔

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
8 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

I think it got down to around 100 at our place by 8:30PM with a low of 78 at midnight and back up to 93 by 6AM this morning, and it’s almost 100 as I write. In the old days, we would have slept outside or gone down to the beach during the night for a swim.

So, yep – as it turns out the cats and I were rewatching The West Wing at 1:30 in the morning because L had been watching it and had subsequently fallen asleep 💤 📺🥱

Shahz
Shahz
8 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

Sean, I will gladly send some cold weather your way if you can send some heat my way! I had to deice my car this morning which wasn’t fun!
And Jo So Sub in Masters Sun is another CMHL I really related to! Loved Hot Stove League as well.
And can’t wait for the guitar playing at the KFG convention!

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
8 months ago
Reply to  Shahz

Awesome! Someone just needs to sweat talk Mother Earth and we are good to go with the heat exchange 🤣 Gee, I haven’t had to de-ice a car in a looong time 🥶 I think I can rustle up a couple of kdrama tunes 🎸🎵🥁

JJ
JJ
8 months ago

Way to go Bestie!!!!

Shahz
Shahz
8 months ago
Reply to  JJ

Thank you my lovely!