Greetings! Hope you’re doing okay in these uncertain times. Recently, I was asked by a friend why people are watching a lot of kdrama these days and I found myself groping for a good answer. I couldn’t really gush with goggly eyes as I would before a fellow kdrama enthusiast. There’s the matter of availability and good looking actors, but that didn’t really feel to be at the heart of it. I also felt angry at myself for feeling apologetic about my drama choices (the person’s what you’d call a “serious” type and I didn’t want to be an object of his condescension). Does this mean I subconsciously subscribe to the notion of kdramas somehow not being up to the mark? I have been agonising about this for a while now. I want to be able to watch what I like without feeling guilty or hesitant to acknowledge my love for it to the world. And I could think of nobody better than you to provide a thoughtful answer to my predicament. The next time I come across this question, I’d like to bank on your eloquence and insights, please!
So, I’ve been looking through all the kdramas that have really helped me feel a bit better since the start of the lockdown. I found I am really craving stories that are set somewhere other than a large metropolis like the one I’m currently stuck in. So, something relaxing and contemporary as opposed to historical and action/suspense oriented. The last one I really loved was Racket Boys; for both characters and settings. Before that I watched When the Weather is Fine and found it soothing mostly based on the atmosphere. I’m having a hard time finding more though. Your recommendations have never once let me down. Can you help?
So, full disclosure, everyone: this question wasn’t an actual submission for Dear kfangurl; it’s just that enough people have asked this question, or a variation of it, both here on the blog, and over on Patreon, that I thought I’d attempt to answer the question.
And since Dear kfangurl is where most of my attempts at answering questions sit, I thought this would be a suitable addition. 😉
Just so we’re clear, I’m not an actual professor of Korean entertainment (is there such a thing?). These are simply my personal observations and opinions, after hanging around the Dramaverse for.. (woah) 14 years now.
Recently due to Noble Idiocy I abandoned the vision of a drama that I really enjoyed: Monthly Home Magazine.
Could you do a post with the list of dramas that contain this detestable gimmick?
I remember getting so mad on Clear With Passion With Me Now too and I would like to avoid investing hours of my life to be so disappointed. In the comments your readers could integrate the list and it would be a really useful service in my opinion.
After years of reading your reviews I decided to take the plunge and write for 2 reasons:
1. To tell you how much I enjoy your reviews and admire your work ethic. I’m a recently retired critical care nurse (an old white lady) and over the years have found so much joy in korean dramas and films. When I am contemplating what to watch next I turn to you. I’ve seen more dramas than I care to admit and I’ve read many varied reviews but you are the gold standard. On the rare occasion that I disagree with one of your reviews I am so shocked and sometimes delighted. I only wish I could become a Patron.
2. A question….Why so often in k dramas does the story/writing go downhill later in the drama. I’m noticing an increasing pattern with this. I’ve seen videos of table reads and it makes wonder…If they are indeed reading the entire script in that sitting do they not notice they are reading what I can only describe as foolishness? The most recent example of this was Bossam. I really loved this drama. I felt it was well written and reminded me of a good old-fashioned k drama but I feel like it eventually went off the rails. This may not be the best example but I’m sure you know what I’m trying to express. I wouldn’t send this as an Ask fangirl question at the risk of sounding whiny and stupid. Is there a logical explanation. Since I know little about the making of dramas I thought you may have insight.
Again, please know you bring fun and joy to this old lady and be proud of yourself.
If you ever need a place to stay in California, I have plenty of room and no weirdos!!
My observations have been (and this may be a generalisation based on the 80 or so K-dramas I have watched) that most male second leads are presented in a way that engenders sympathy. So, by the time the series have ended we are actually rooting for them to find love!! I know that there are exceptions but they are a rare breed in drama land.
In contrast, most female second leads are presented in a more negative light – possibly a throwover to the ‘vamps’ of earlier times! I know going into the reasons for such portrayals needs a lot of study of human society and the status of women and have probably been the subject of a lot of research! But my question is simple – Are there any dramas that present the second female leads in a positive light?
Hope you are well and staying safe! Your blogs continue to be my first port of call before I pick a new drama to watch so thank you!
Hi, kfangurl, thanks for your amazing and detailed drama reviews. I’m currently watching Mr. Sunshine, and although I’m not loving the OTP, I have enjoyed learning about the time period in Korean history when the show is set. I’ve learned so much about Korean, Japanese, and U.S. relations at the time, and it’s fascinating! Similarly, when I watched Crash Landing on You, I loved seeing the different perspective of North Korea so much that I started getting really emotional thinking about the separation between North and South Korea. I was wondering, what dramas have you seen or recommend where you felt like you were getting a new or better understanding of history or culture?
Dear Kfangurl – After your in depth, thorough, review of Move to Heaven (you’ve always done thorough reviews, but I’m amazed that you still manage to squeeze in watching dramas, much less having the time to deep dive in your writing to break down every character and every characters’ interactions with other characters the way you still do) – so after reading that recent review, I became even more curious of how you manage your time? I’d bet others here would also like to see a timeline post of “a week in Kfangurl’s life”. I imagine you writing, watching, and scribbling 24/7 (almost chained to the television and computer): “Sunday, interacting with patreon members. ‘Oh, it’s Monday, time to finish my notes on NIF’ to post on Tuesday. Wednesday, watch episodes of the latest dramas while taking notes. Post new review on drama recently completed. Thursday, Watch a couple of 1-hour drama specials, prepare and post reviews. Friday, watch episodes for KMHM and prepare recap to post on Saturday. Sunday, hair pull out day.”
But seriously, I’d be so interested in seeing how you manage it all. I guess you don’t have to tell us when you have time to brush you’re teeth, unless you want to… 😊
Hey KFG. Hope you are well. An idea for “ask KFG” post was one around what your guilty pleasures are? And opening that same question up to the KFG community. In particular those that you couldn’t explain to a non K drama lover.
So for me three immediately come to mind. The first being “Secret Garden”. Body shifting, toxic couple. Female lead sometimes one note, an annoying mother but even though I watched this ten years after it was shown I still fell for all the iconic lines. The second ” “You are Beautiful”. Cross dressing nun joins a pop band pretending to be her male twin. The chemistry between the OTP never sizzles but it is oh so sweet and actually what develops is a nurturing relationship despite the communication problems. And Jang Keun-suk is so mesmerising beautiful that you can’t take your eyes off him.
The third is” Don’t dare to dream”. Questionable OTP and questionable decisions and at one point the female lead dates both the ML and the second lead at the same but the sparkling chemistry between the leads makes this a great binge watch. And an honourable mention for Masters Sun. FL sees ghosts and ML acts as a barrier to those ghosts but uses this power to manipulate the FL into furthering his interests but again the sizzling chemistry between the leads makes the show so bingeable”