Stories from the community: Leslie’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! ❤️). You can check out the earlier posts in this series as follows: MCSeanShahzJJMartinaBeth, Uyen & Ella. After today’s post, there will be one last guest post by one last mystery guest writer, whose identity will be revealed when their post goes live. Woot! 🥳

Today’s post is brought to you by Leslie, who is as sweet, wise and thoughtful, as she is unassuming and modest. When we were planning the year-end awards series of guest posts, Leslie had demurred, saying that she didn’t feel confident to write a post. Now that she’s actually written one, though, I’m blown away by what a great storyteller she is! You rock, Leslie, and don’t let anyone tell you different (even yourself)! 😘

I hope you guys enjoy!

~ KFG ❤️

Hello Everyone!

I’d had no intention of writing a post about my kdrama origin story, because honestly, the story seemed rather ho-hum.

But reading my fellow Patrons’ stories caused me to reflect on why I came, stayed, and still spend a lot of time here, in kdramaland. Insights emerged, and suddenly I couldn’t stop writing about it! Inevitably, I concluded: I’ve written it – so why not share it? (Gulp.)

So, thank you, KFG, for offering your platform for our stories. Thanks to all of you who have shared yours, and those of you who’ve cheered us on. Without further ado …

My Gateway Korean Dramas and How I Avoided an Existential Crisis

By way of introduction, I’m an inveterate traveler.

International travel takes me mostly to Europe and Asia, but I’ve also been to all 50 U.S. states. I lived in Taiwan for over a year, and spent an extended time in Florence. To my chagrin, I’ve missed visiting the entire continent of South America, so far. The pandemic quashed a trip to Argentina, but, surely, I’ll be able to get there… soon?

All of this to say, that ever since my first trip abroad when I was 17, as a summer exchange student near Dortmund, Germany, I’ve seen myself as a Citizen of the World, who has a corresponding world view.

With that, my kdrama arc begins.

Stand By Your Man, Jung Hae In, and Pretty, Pretty Costumes

Something in the Rain

On the one hand, my intro to kdrama was rather anticlimactic.

In 2018, I watched Something in the Rain, a Netflix recommendation, I presume. I know I wasn’t looking for a non-Western offering, and wasn’t the least bit aware of Korean entertainment, Hallyu, or soft power. But the story looked cute, and the actors cuter, so why not?

I was impressed with, but mostly, very surprised by, the high production values of the drama, the attractiveness of the actors, the quality of acting, and the modernity of the sets, and of Seoul. Who knew South Korea offered all of that? Not me.

I found the story engaging enough to see it through all 16 episodes. “Stand by Your Man” became an ice pick to my brain nearly every 30 minutes, however, so I fast forwarded through more than one scene when the song cued, especially scenes involving endless soulful walks in the misty night rain. I was disappointed that a Korean drama would use an American standard as a main musical theme, but reckoned that South Korea must not have a big modern music industry, so had borrowed from the U.S. – right?

I found the story intriguing, largely because I couldn’t understand the central tension of the drama – what I now know as, the noona story – and wanted to figure out what the problem was.

I kept thinking that if I watched just one more episode, I’d understand why it was so problematic for a younger man and an older woman, who really was not that senior, to be together. Eventually I took to Google to find answers to, what I finally realized, was a cultural rather than dramatic issue in my comprehension. And got some satisfaction.

But my research also opened Pandora’s Box. I found references to honorifics, information about South Korean economy, dating scandals, chaebols (chaebols?), education, why Koreans call someone else’s grandmother, grandmother… that just confused me more. Too Much Information.

I closed the Box, but not before I somehow, from somewhere, picked up the impression, from something I scan-read, that South Korea produced one, or two, 16-episode dramas a year, that were enthusiastically watched by a large percentage of the South Korean population. What a great little niche genre I’ve discovered, I thought.

Despite the underwhelming resolution of Something in the Rain, I did have some pretty intense feelz during the 16 episodes, so I made a mental note to check Netflix the following year, to see if it was airing the 2019 South Korean Drama Series.

🙄 (Eyeroll Emoji)

One Spring Night

Fast forward a year, when, bored with my cable TV offerings, I remembered that Netflix might have released Korea’s 2019 Series.

Sure enough, after minimal exploration, up popped One Spring Night. And, cool! It was the same male lead – Jung Hae In. Gosh, I thought, he must be something special, to star – two years in a row! –  in one of the 1 or 2 series that South Korea produced annually.

I enjoyed this drama more than the previous one. I found the leads well-matched, and the soundtrack was certainly superior. Although, I was still puzzled by why a young man, who chose to do the right thing and become a responsible single parent, would be considered risky, if not poor, husband material?

Then, towards the end of the year, I came across Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung, and, though a little surprised that Netflix was airing a second Korean drama in 2019, selected it for my first sageuk.

Of course, at the time, I didn’t know the word sageuk, nor any of the tradition (or history) behind Korean historical dramas. I was simply taken by the beautiful clothes (what must the costume budget be?!), the elaborate sets, and the stylized way historical people interacted with each other.

I wondered whether the central story, of women being allowed into the honorable ranks of Court Historian as early as the 1820s, was accurate (unexpectedly progressive!), and if the acute paleness of the male lead was actually considered attractive (also, wasn’t he tall for a Korean man? Maybe it’s his funny-looking tall hat, I mused.)

Wherein, An Existential Crisis (Since Averted)

Remember that, I started the previous section with “On the one hand”? Yes, I enjoyed my first three kdramas, but there was a lot I didn’t understand, nor appreciate, about them. I was not immediately in kdrama heaven.

And do you remember, too, that I viewed myself as an enlightened Citizen of the World?

So now, here’s the “On the other hand.”

These three dramas introduced me to a country, a culture, and an industry that was, quite literally, nowhere on my intellectual or cultural or TV screen prior to September 2018. And, I was intrigued, but a little shocked, as well, by what I didn’t know.

As I Googled, more and more frequently, to try and figure out why characters acted as they did, or what the context was, or who these actors were (Cha Eun Woo is an idol actor? Idol of what? Oh, South Korea has a thriving music industry, too?!), it became very, very clear to me that I was…

A total ignoramus.

Cha Eun Woo

I was ignorant not only about the Korean entertainment industry, that had been spreading its influence in Asia for more than 20 years (which was unhip, but not uncool, worldview-wise), but also about the hugely influential, highly developed, very successful, sophisticated, and complex country, that is South Korea.

I also realized, that if I had a blind spot about all things South Korea, I likely had more, for other countries and other regions of the world. I was humbled. I felt quite ugly, if you know what I mean.

I almost relinquished my Citizen of the World passport.

But – and I never thought I would say these words – luckily, along came a pandemic.

Hyun Bin-ssi, as he did for so many others in March 2020, invited me to crash land on Korean drama in a big way; and I did.

As I watched kdrama after kdrama throughout that year, I immersed myself in a new culture, learning about many of those things I had stuffed back into Pandora’s Box – and more.

The history! The culture! The geography! The politics! The food! The values! The k-pop! The scandals! The gorgeous clothes! The gorgeous men! The love.

I remember messaging Fangurl, around the time I joined Patreon in 2020, that I felt like kdrama had allowed me to keep on traveling, even while the pandemic kept me pretty much locked in my home.

Wikipedia, MyDramaList, AsianWiki, and of course, The Fangirl Verdict, at hand, I furiously Googled my way through 2020, growing my knowledge and appreciation of kdrama, k-ent, and South Korea in general.

Appreciating the new window into culture that drama provided, I began exploring Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, and Thai drama, as well.

My first non-Korean option was Taiwan’s Back to 1989, a time-travel romance, that’s worth checking out. Expanding my regional horizons, I tried to find a foothold in African dramas last year… without success, but it was a start.

Back to 1989

I’m inspired by Shahz’s recent post, to explore Pakistani and Indian drama in 2022. I may head south of my border for a South American drama series – prep for a rescheduled trip, perhaps? Your recommendations are invited and appreciated.

Kdrama is likely to continue as the focus of my drama attention, partly because of its high quality and ready availability, but mostly because I just love the stories. Kdrama has given me an exhilarating ride. Emotionally and intellectually stimulating, it’s just so… satisfying.

And let’s be real. A good dollop of heat 🔥, served up on the regular, does not hurt, either. Here’s looking at you Gong Yoo 😉, Junho 😉, So Ji Sub 😉, Jo In Sung 😉, Yoo Ah In 😉, Ryu Jun Yeol 😉, Jang Hyuk 😉 … Oh! Oh yeah. I’m not writing for Fangurl’s post on the female gaze, am I? Joesonghamnida. 🙏🏼   I’ll wrap this up.

Something in the Rain, One Spring Night, and Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung, collectively, were a gateway into the whole wide world outside of Western TV, and, into the soul of Korean drama. They didn’t all grab me by the heart, but they each took hold of my imagination and my world lens. They humbled me, then allowed me to expand and explore the world in ways I had not imagined, before 2018.

My Citizen of the World passport has been renewed, and I wield it now, with more awareness.

Thanks for reading… and I sincerely invite you, fellow kdrama lovers, to share your kdrama origin stories, too! Let’s keep expanding our worlds!

Epilogue

Since 2020 was all about my kdrama and South Korea education, I’ll close with 6 shows that fueled my drama travels that year. These are the ones that ultimately opened my heart and mind to Korean drama – and began gobbling up my free time.

Coffee Prince (2007)

An iconic kdrama, Coffee Prince hardly needs description. I will share that, I kept referring back to the release date while I watched, because of how well it handled a, seeming love attraction between two men. I was impressed and endeared. I love the love stories of both main couples.

In addition to introducing me to Gong Yoo – reason enough to make the show a favorite – I discovered Lee Sun Kyun, Yoon Eun Hye, and the loveable Coffee Prince team. I’m almost finished with Lee Sun Kyun’s Dr. Brain (2021), a 6-episode series, on Apple TV. It’s a cerebral thriller that’s worth the watch, if you already have Apple TV.

If you, too, are a Coffee Prince fan, My Dear Youth (Viki) is a worthwhile 2020 cast remembrance of the summer they filmed Coffee Prince. It’s a little trippy to see the cast 13 years later, and a lot of fun.

It’s Ok, That’s Love (2014)

This show knocked my socks off, especially the chemistry between our OTP. Jo In Sung was 🔥 in his role as writer, landlord, DJ, and ultimately, suffering patient. Gong Hyo-jin was great in her character as an intelligent, vulnerable-yet-strong, feisty-yet-compassionate doctor and partner/lover.

I love the sound track – probably because several songs are in English, and I understand the lyrics. 😆 I especially like The Once’s folksy cover of Queen’s, You’re My Best Friend.

Many kdrama fans were not a fan of how mental health was handled in this drama. I respect that perspective, and myself question how facilely schizophrenia is treated by the writers. My overall feeling, however, is that Show is hugely compassionate towards, and humanizing of, people struggling with their mental health.

Oh My Venus (2015)

Not going to lie, from the opening scenes of So Ji Sub doing sensual pull-ups and otherwise baring his lovely torso, I was pretty much hooked on So Ji Sub this drama. Cheeks aflame, I paused the video just one minute into the show, to quickly check the rating. I’d never heard of an NC-17 rating in kdrama, but… maybe?

Ultimately, the show serves up a sweet romance, with an improbable, but engaging, story. The chemistry between our two main characters is cracky. I became a Shin Min Ah fan, impressed by her portrayal of an overweight woman who loves herself, as she is, but dedicates herself to getting off medications, by adopting a healthier lifestyle. With So Ji Sub’s assistance, I think I’d be motivated, too!

I also remember Oh My Venus for being the first kdrama in which I heard the phrase “sexy time” – with the accompanying dive under the covers. Fu-un.

Sungkyunkwan Scandal (2010)

Another near-iconic kdrama, I almost experienced cuteness-cum-hotness overload with Sungkyunkwan Scandal. But, no, not really. I lapped it all up. It was certainly a different kind of sageuk than Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung… but hadn’t I seen some of those costumes before?

I love the romance and the bromance in the show. It was fun and cool and touching and informative (it inspired a semi-deep dive into South Korean higher education.)

It also introduced me to three actors whom I recognized as full-fledged stars, in dramas I would later watch: Song Joong Ki, Park Min Young, and Yoo Ah In. They were such fresh-faced young adults back then. Now they’ve become cigarette lighter-wielding Mafioso, fangirling chief art curators, and dead-eyed cult leaders. How quickly kids grow up.

Park Yoochun, the fourth main cast member, became an early object lesson for me, of the celebrity scandal culture in South Korea. His story of poor (and illegal) choices, and subsequent ejection from the industry, helped me realize I would likely never know the whole story behind these kinds of scandals. Between media hype, fan reaction, management agency damage control, and legal and cultural differences from the U.S., a degree of “truth” is likely to always be obscure to me.

Hospital Playlist, Season 1 (2020)

Towards the end of the year, I watched this gem of a show which struck me as different from anything I’d seen so far. With its ensemble cast of five mature (at least in years) characters, long friendships, humorous repartee, musical interludes, and heartwarming patient and personal vignettes, it captured my heart.

On Patreon, I wrote about Hospital Playlist, Season 2 – which also holds for Season 1 – “These are the characters about whom I continue to muse, “I wonder how they’re doing? How are the wedding plans going? When will we get together again?” They were my dear friends, too, for a while.

My Mister (2018)

I’ve been resisting putting My Mister on this list, only because I have nothing substantively new to add to the accolades other guest writers have showered on it. But how can I ignore it?

This was the 15th, or so, kdrama I watched, and it set a very high bar for the many dozens that followed. It is the best drama, in any language, that I have ever watched (with Secret Love Affair a neck-and-neck second.)

I just completed my first re-watch of My Mister, with KFG’s Group Watch. I wept my way through the last half of the show – again. I wept not out of sadness, but because of the sheer beauty of the story, the storytelling, the OST, and the acting. I tell my friends, it’s the most beautiful and joyful, sad drama they will ever watch.

It seems right to end on that high note.

I hope 2022 brings you many new and wonderful kdrama discoveries, maybe even a drama that joins the equivalent in your rank of my My Mister or Secret Love Affair. Although not quite at that level, this month, The Red Sleeve is edging its way up my favorites Leaderboard to compete for third place. 🤞🏼 I’m only on Episode 14, so shhh.

What a great way to start the year.

~ Leslie

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Ufan
Ufan
3 months ago

Leslie, you made me stop lurking. Amazing to read how you got into Kdrama. Jo In-Sung in That Winter The Blows was my first and the hook for me. SITR, BTIMFL, and Search: WWW cemented me in dramaland. The tell everyone you meet, drive family members crazy and a Kdrama stan happened with Mother and It’s Okay, That’s Love. My drama watch list now include 5 countries on Netflix, Viki and Kocowa.

Hello to everyone!

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  Ufan

@Ufan – So glad you un-lurked! You have some great starter kdramas on your list. I’ve always been a little afraid of That Winter, The Wind Blows – Jo In Sung notwithstanding – because I understand it to be sad(as well as good), and I’ve got to be in the mood for that. Watch on!

J3ffc
J3ffc
3 months ago

Leslie, great post! I totally feel that sense of ignoramosity when I think back to all of the initial thoughts I had when I just started watching. And my friends – both of them – would confirm this.

And, for a lot of reasons, I think SITR is reasonably good starting point, despite it’s standing as a sort of touchstone disappointment for a lot of people. I’d give it this: the first couple of episodes and the cast, as you noted, look great. I out and out loved the dancing-while-at-work scene. I’ve still not seen One Spring Night but it’s still on the Neverending List.

What’s important is that you stuck with it and took the time to share it with us in your very entertaining and well-written post. Thanks for sharing.

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  J3ffc

– Ahaha! Ignoramosity – I love it. And, ah yes, the Neverending List. 📃 Could be worse. 😉

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
3 months ago

You have such a way with words! I enjoyed your story.

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

🙏🏼 Thank you.

Su San
Su San
3 months ago

Love your post–thanks for sharing.

I especially appreciate your description of googling and bookmarking as you watched, as this is my pattern. Watching Kdramas has really changed my algorithm, ha! I like diving into the background–culture, language, food, history, filming locations, actors/actresses, tropes, etc.–as I watch. As I become immersed in a drama, gathering background information deeply enhances my viewing experience.

The best result of my searching for information is finding KFG’s site and connecting to fellow fans.

Su San
Su San
3 months ago
Reply to  Su San

Forgot to say that Covid robbed me of a pan-South American trip, too!

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  Su San

@Su San – So disappointing. But on the positive side, I hear South America is still waiting for us! 😅 Looking forward to a second chance to explore.

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  Su San

Thank you, Su San. I love the image of kdrama fans, from all over the world, googling and bookmarking as they go. What a great shared experience. And, I agree. KFG’s site was the best find in all of the searching. ♥️

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
3 months ago

I found your post very endearing and heartwarming, Leslie. I have to say I am on the same page with you re It’s Okay! That’s Love. As for the cover of Queen’s Your My Best Friend by The Once (it was a big hit all over the place for them at the time and also exposed this drama far and wide too), it is a version I like to play on the guitar, because it’s awesome. I do have access to my daughter’s banjo, but I haven’t played the intro to this song on it yet, because, well, my banjo playing is, let’s just say, very twangy.

SITR turned out to be a big disappoinment for me, despite loving the intial part of it so much. Anyway, it meant that I have never gone on to appreciate One Spring Night. What more can be said about My Mister – awesomeness personified and I thoroughly enjoyed Oh My Venus.

I am so glad that your kdrama experience has allowed you to keep travelling. Your travelling prowess is amazing and I am sure there will be a time when you will be able to get to South America 😊

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

@Sean – Cool, that you can play Your My Best Friend on the guitar! Mellow and sweet. I’ve been listening to the It’s Okay! OST this afternoon and feeling mellow, in general. Re: It’s Okay! and Oh My Venus, it’s been fun to find others who similarly enjoy what I think of as mini-guilty pleasures (especially OMV.) Re: traveling, Australia and New Zealand are on the list, too – just need to carve out a big chunk of time to do it, as you know. Thank you for “endearing and heartwarming” appreciation, Sean.

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
3 months ago
Reply to  Leslie

@Leslie – yes, Australia is a big place and NZ is simply stunning. This is a link to a very good blog I follow re their never ending tour of Australia: https://borntotravelaustralia.com/ They are lovely people to boot and are really good at finding the good spots to visit 😊

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

@Sean – Oooh. Thanks for the heads up on this great blog!

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
3 months ago
Reply to  Leslie

@Leslie – my pleasure 😊

beez
3 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

@seank – my son declined his college graduation trip in lieu of doing a semester in Australia but then it somehow fell through. I’m going to forward that link to him. Now that his business is established, maybe he’ll feel inspired again to visit Australia. I know it won’t be the same as if he’d spent an entire semester living there, but I know he’d enjoy it so much.

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
3 months ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – I hope your son does get to visit Australia one day. I have no doubt he will enjoy himself very much. The most difficult issue is working what to go and see 😊

David
David
3 months ago

Thank you Leslie for writing on your kdrama journey! I haven’t visited the site too much, but do read the emails. I finally decided to check the web site out again. I also hadn’t read the other guests series. But given it’s a Sunday night in America and I finished my recent Kdrama, I finally decided to catch up on the site. The 4 kdrama pics of your article certainly caught my eye – my favorites – I know SITR isn’t for everyone but thoroughly enjoyed that and these others. Loved Coffee Prince and Sungkyunkwan Scandal too. And there are lots of great Kmovies over the 20+ years – too many to list here. I’m pretty impressed you’ve been to all 50 US states – I’ve only hit 47.

If anyone has an update on Hello My Twenties Season 3, well, please share, but not holding my breath. Anyway, just wanted to say thanks to KFG for this site/community and to Leslie for sharing her story. I may check out Red Sleeve. Open to any other suggestion you may have.

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  David

Glad to see you (back) here, David! Have you had a chance to check out the 2021 End-of-Year guest posts by ShahzJJTrentSeanMartina, lotusgirl & phl1rxd yet? They offer several, well-annotated, options for 2021 dramas (with a few non-2021 offerings snuck in), that might work for you. I think these links will work, but if not, you can search “End-of-Year” in the search box, near the top of the page. Good luck and Happy Year of the Tiger, back at you!

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  Leslie

P.S. 47 states is nothing to sneeze at. 😉 Which ones are still on the list?

David
David
3 months ago
Reply to  Leslie

yea, was going to ask to guess, but Alaska, North/South Dakota. Alaska has been close many times, but I’m like – Hawaii or Alaska – always ends up Hawaii. Just somewhere to go off from the mainland. The national parks are worth going to I hear. Not sure I’ll make it to the Dakota’s in this lifetime. But tell me if I am missing something.

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  David

I think South Dakota, especially the Black Hills, shouldn’t be missed. It’s beautiful, and infused with Native American heritage and spirit. Some great Native American art in Sioux Falls, if you’re into that kind of thing (if only as an admirer.) Good luck getting to Alaska, too – it’s hard to compete with Hawaii as the alternative, for sure. 😉

David
David
3 months ago
Reply to  Leslie

I have not read the other guest posts yet but will to plan today. And will see what others are watching. I was in-between kdramas – kinda like dating, been sampling a few shows here and there, until one caught my eye. Hmm – Oh My Venus – I tried to watch that about 2 years ago, then a year ago. I got stuck both times and stopped after 20 minutes. I watched the full first episode and actually liked it (powered through for several minutes) – the airplane scene was really good. I might come back to it after I finish my current show. The “sexy play” piqued my attention – the kdramas I’ve seen aren’t known for that, which I am fine with. It sometimes takes 8 episodes for the love interest to hold hands 🙂

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  David

@David – Don’t get your hopes too high about “sexy play”. It’s a line mostly played for cuteness. 😆 Still, Shin Min A and So Ji Sub being cute together…

Martina Conte
Martina Conte
3 months ago

what a lovely post! i like Jung Hae In 😉

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  Martina Conte

@Martina – Thank you. I like Jung Hae In, too. I followed him to While You Were Sleeping and Tune in for Love (movie) after those first two dramas. Still haven’t watched Prison Playbook, and now D.P., so more good stuff ahead.

JJ
JJ
3 months ago
Reply to  Leslie

@Leslie – I looooved Tune in for Love! Did you ? I saw While You Were Sleeping, too!!! But I followed Lee Jong Suk to that one 🙂 I havent seen Prison Playbook either! DP is TOUGH but worth it.

Su San
Su San
3 months ago
Reply to  Martina Conte

I like Jung Hae In, too!

Natalia
Natalia
3 months ago

Oh Leslie, such a lovely read. I really, really enjoyed your post, your description of getting to know a whole new culture was so so relatable (like, the noona taboo when said noona is like 5 -10 years older, I was also like “what’s wrong?”). And I was glad to see se have many things in common, like a) our common love of travels (Covid robbed me from a trip to Peru – we were to go there in April 2020!), b) our common admiration of joseon fashion, hanboks, those great hats with all those beads and feathers, c) our common wonder before Cha Eun Woo’s paleness and so on!

Also, an insight on latin american dramas, or telenovelas: as a kid (and teenager-young adult), I used to watch A LOT of them. You see, my grandma used to live with us, and she had as much trouble with subtitles as one would expect of an old lady born in the 1920s who’s only gone to school up to the 4th grade. So, from an early age, I used to read the subtitles for her. We must have been a pretty cute couple, imagine a 8-9 year old reading the subtitles for shows like Dynasty or Dallas to an old lady! Anyway, at some point in the 90s, the telenovela craze hit Greece: suddenly Alexis was out, Esmeralda was in. To cut a long story short, i have watched many telenovelas, but mostly from the previous century (and the 2000s). I can’t guarantee that they are still like that in the 2020s, but at least back then, as a general rule, they were long (like real long) and there was always some couple facing all kind of trouble, including some real bad people, with some really bad (but oh so fun) performances. Just google Soraya Montenegro, you’ll get what I’m saying here.
Anyway, if you’re in the mood of watching a vintage but iconic telenovela, I would recommend Corazon Salvaje. It’s a mexican show of the 90s (based on a 1950’s novel) that was an enormous hit in the whole of Latin America (and Greece!). It’s set in the early 20th century (or late 19th?) on some coastal place in Mexico (or was it an island, I think the book -yes, I’ve read it- was set in Martinique but the show is in Mexico), the story of two half brothers, one the legitimate and very upright son of a very rich landowner, the other the son of a slave(?) One gets to study abroad and inherits everything, the other becomes a smuggler/pirate. But obviously, they both fall in love with the same woman – a spoiled brat who wants the poor brother but marries the rich one, even though he was betrothed since childhood to her kind and pious sister, which decides to join a nunnery but ends up married to the poor one who’s now rich because of some (illegal?) money he came across.
I have no idea where you could watch this show (maybe youtube?), but if you get a chance, I think you’d have a blast! You can get an idea just by watching the intro/beginning of the show:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULHFJvCkDLY

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  Natalia

@Natalia – Thank you for all of the good back story on telenovelas, and the recommendation of Corazon Salvaje. It’s hard to believe the drama would be more entertaining than your summary. 😂 I happened to notice at the YouTube video – it’s 80 episodes! I might have to miss a Group Watch, or two, if I took it on, but hey, money where the mouth is. 😉

I love the image of you reading subtitles to your grandmother. I envision a shot of the back of your heads, slanting towards each other, facing the television. I wonder what happened when you came to the *spicy* parts. 😉

Natalia
Natalia
3 months ago
Reply to  Leslie

You painted such a lovely image of my granny and myself… Yes, I suppose we were like that. As for the spicy parts (and telenovelas, I assure you, are much spicier than kdramas but nothing serious really) grandma would always say that there was nothing going on that I wouldn’t do myself after many years and I used to say “gross, I will never!”.

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  Natalia

😂

MC
MC
3 months ago

Ah, what a lovely read! I must say that you write so engagingly I wished there was more. I love how open you were to new things and it’s ok to be an ignoramus – since it’s on something you had zero exposure too. I hope you’ll keep writing and keep having more shows to love!

Plus Ryu Joon Yeol is 😍😍😍😍
And I wish I had apple tv to watch Dr Brain! Lee Sun Kyun and Park Sang Woong are my favourite ahjussi actors 😘

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  MC

@MC – Such nice remarks – thank you. Now I wish I’d snuck a reference to Lost into my post, so that KFG could link to a photo of (long-haired) Ryu Joon Yeol. Good thing I know how to google.

Ele Nash
3 months ago

Oh, Leslie, you are my spirit ignoramus! I felt the exact same falling of crest when I stumbled upon Mr Sunshine and all was all like, where’s Joseon? What is Joseon?! 😨 Oh, you mean Korea? It’s rather pretty. And, wow, those are some very very handsome men – and before I knew it, I was like a Wikipedia on all things kdrama (though my memory for titles and actors names remains horrible so more like like a slightly annoyingly vague Wikipedia 🙄) And, oh I LOVED the shows you’ve chosen – It’s Okay, That’s Love really is special (though I know is flawed) and Coffee Prince – yah! Amazingly so. Literally, I spent your review squeeing as if Jang Hyuk just turned up in front of me – Oh, OK, I’d have fainted if that had happened… But my heart is yours, Leslie! I relate entirely 😅

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

@Ele – And, if Jang Hyuk had appeared before you, I would have been totally 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼! with my post being kicked to the curb in real time. 😆 Ok, this is ridiculous, but now I’m trying to imagine the spirit animal of an ignoramus.

jaco_4950
jaco_4950
3 months ago

Great post, I have lots in common with your choices!

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  jaco_4950

Thanks, jaco_4950.

kate
kate
3 months ago

What a great story, Leslie, I’m glad you decided to share it with everyone <3

I found myself nodding along to most of it lol

Lots of googling for me as well, and one of the first sageuks I watched left me confused more than once. Now I feel like a veteran when it comes to court etiquette, intrigues and rivalries between princes 😀

Sungkyunkwan Scandal is so fun, right? I really enjoyed it as well. I had seen Song Joong-Ki in something else before and so it was the opposite for me, I saw a seasoned actor transform back into bright-eyed, bubbly youngin 😀

I had no idea about Park Yoochun :O What a different industry compared to Hollywood. I feel like for most actors there, drug use barely elicits a shrug now? Or am I too jaded?

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  kate

@kate – re: sageuks, I do find myself questioning Writer-nim, occasionally, about whether something, a Royal interaction for instance, is authentic or not – now that I’m an expert on such things. 😂 I’m so glad you enjoyed the post!

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  Leslie

And, I don’t think you’re jaded about Hollywood culture. I am more likely naive about what real k-ent culture is like. I’m not sure that it’s respectful of multi-dimensional celebrity people, but 🙈🙉 = my rose-colored glasses.

uyen
3 months ago

I totally enjoyed reading this, Leslie, I laughed out loud a few times. I watched the first ep of One Spring Night but set it aside because it wasn’t right timing for me, but I’m still open to picking it back up again, and it was nice to see it on your list. I have not seen Sungkyunkwan Scandal, but I do like 3 of the stars like you said so am interested. I totally loved It’s Okay That’s Love!! I think it has not aged so well, but got me in the feels at parts and I loved some of the OSTs. I agree with your take that I felt it was very compassionate and, I think did more than other dramas at the time it aired. But it got my swooning over Jo In Sung, and I feel you on some of your other loves like Gong Yoo, Junho, Yoo Ah In, Ryu Jun Yeol hehe

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  uyen

@uyen – I think you would like Sungkyunkwan Scandal. Rather lighthearted (and funny, at times), but has some good emotional punch. Yes, somehow, it didn’t feel like my post was complete without a swoon, or 7. 😉 I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, uyen.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
3 months ago

@Leslie – you are a riot. I loved this expression – “Stand by Your Man” became an ice pick to my brain nearly every 30 minutes. Ha! My sentiments exactly!

I went through almost the same steps you did when I really got into KDrama years ago. I remember having those same thoughts and researching those same customs and cultural references. In short, this is like reading about the steps I took to understand S. Korea and the essence of KDrama. Still to this day, whenever I start a new drama I open Asian Wiki (to see what they looked like in that drama) and MDL (to see what they look like now and to log my watch) to research the actors and actresses.

I have always wanted to travel the world. I envy the fact the you spent time in Florence, as one of my lifetime goals was to walk the city for a month or two. The art Leslie! Sigh. Good on you getting to travel everywhere. What a great experience! I wonder how many languages you can speak.

If you ever get to travel to S. Korea you must write and let us all know about your experiences. That would be really exciting! Also – we need photos. 📷 Who knows – you could run into So Ji Sub or Jang Hyuk filming a drama, yes?

I really enjoyed this post Leslie! It was quite refreshing in so many ways.

Last edited 3 months ago by phl1rxd
Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

– It’s actually comforting to know you had a similar kdrama path. I’m glad you shared that. Yes, I frequently have 1-3 tabs open for drama resources. The most mundane, possibly, is the Korean won to USD converter, because I want to know if 100,000 won is impressive, and need the converter every. single. time.😖 Living in Florence is like living in an art piece, at least when you’re a guest there. It was food for my soul. If I get to S. Korea, you bet I’ll share the experience! Thank you for all of your kind words.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
3 months ago
Reply to  Leslie

Leslie – or the converter used to figure out how tall an actor is. Yes, I am shallow like that. I can estimate the money now and be fairly close. If you get to travel there, all the knowledge you have gained from your research will help a lot.

JJ
JJ
3 months ago

@Leslie – Oh ! I second Trent’s I love this so much!!! If I had been quicker, he would have been seconding my I LOVE THIS SOOOO MUCH!!! Omo! Your Kdrama origin story is far from ho hum. Who else survived an ice pick to the brain (btw same experience with this Show here) from their watch of Something in the Rain. AND That was your FIRST Show and you came back for more!!!

I LOVE ONE SPRING NIGHT soooo much ESPECIALLY after Something in the Rain. And can we talk about the OST in One Spring Night. 🙂

YAY! I loved Rookie Historian! Another Noona Romance, too 🙂 You had three in a row!!!

Did you say Time Travel Romance? Hello! How could you have been hiding this from me all this time? Wait, Ill be back 😉

Uh yeah, so I have seen Oh My Venus three times 🙂 YAY someone else who loves it, too :-0 Hmmm, did I miss those sensual abs? Maybe I need to go back for a 4th watch 😉 Wanna join me???!!! LOL!!! No seriously…..LOL!

Maybe Hospital Playlist Crew will post an update how they are doing in their daily lives. Sigh. Miss them. Love them. Gosh werent we lucky to have them when we did 🙂

Beautiful Leslie- “I tell my friends, it’s the most beautiful and joyful, sad drama they will ever watch.”

Write more. Write often. Spoil us more with your writing and insights, please !!! Always love your comments on Patreon 🙂

SPOILER ALERT –
So in Red Sleeve 🤭

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
3 months ago
Reply to  JJ

JJ – Red Sleeve… 😅🤣😂

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  JJ

Thank you, Jennifer! Such kind word. In order of your comments: Re: SITR – I’m secretly proud of the grit I exhibited in returning for a second try at kdramas. 😂 Re: Noona stories – I hadn’t put it together that my first three were noona stories. Great observation. Re OMV: I’ll meet you in the training room for a rewatch, and point out the lovely things you missed. See you on the Exchange. Re writing more: How does KFG do it day in and out? Re: Red Sleeve – brat. 🤣

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  Leslie

@Jennifer – kind words. I can’t help myself.

JJ
JJ
3 months ago
Reply to  Leslie

@Leslie – You got some grit guuuurl!!!! Now lets do a rewatch to see how much grit you have 🤣

Woo Hoo for Noona stories!!! Hellllooooo Junhoo 😉

Re: OMV – Perfect! Ill see you there 🤩🤩🤩

OMO!!! Cant wait to see you on the Exchange!!!! 🤩

Re: Red Sleeve- “brat” – 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

Trent
3 months ago

Leslie! I love this so much! Thank you for mustering up the gumption to write it and share it with us!

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  Trent

Thank you, Trent. I’m feeling quite brave today. 💪🏼 Looking forward to reading your post, and kind of happy that I didn’t have to follow it. 😉 Fighting!