In response, j3ffc basically wanted to know which classic dramas I think drama fans should check out (which would demonstrate the shift in gaze over the years), and Trent heartily seconded the idea and expanded on it:
“The question I’ve been thinking about is along the lines of how do you think kdramas have evolved over the last couple decades? Do you see discernible or important trends in that time?
(Broadly considered: thematically, in treatment of tropes, genre or sub-genre expansion (or contraction), production values, stylistic changes, acting and\or casting type trends: it’s all fair game).
You touched on a bit of this in this Vogue interview, but I’d be very interested in a broader look, and I just don’t have the range of experience to even attempt a synthesis. You do, though. 😁”
So today I thought I’d talk about kdramas which I would consider iconic, over the years, and how kdramas have been evolving, in broad strokes.
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?
Absolutely LOVE your blog and best of luck in your journey to keep writing!
Two questions for you I hope you can help with, though they are sort of related:
1) Why is it so rare for kdramas to get more than 1 season?
2) What qualifies a kdrama to get a second season?
To explain a bit, I just finished Vincenzo (so amazing, SJK, JYB and the rest of the cast were brilliant, even if the logic got…stretched in some bits) but SJK’s interview right after the finale seems to indicate it won’t get a second season despite very very good ratings.
This seems to be the norm for kdramas–save very rare exceptions like Hospital Playlist and Age of Youth/Hello My Twenties. So what gives? Is it a different industry/culture thing? I do admit that I am based in the US, where, as long as a show doesn’t completely flop, getting at least 2-3 seasons is incredibly common.
I was watching kdrama clips and have been wondering. They all look so pretty, even one with jobs in which there is exposure to excessive sunlight and dust look so…. clean. Its all good adding to kdrama fantasy but are there any dramas whose leads look more like normal us…with common jobs and maybe cheaper clothes?
Maybe all I am talking about is more realistic dramas out there. I liked Another Oh Hae Young in that aspect and felt I was more into the story and scenes rather than their appearances.
First of all, I am an avid fan of your blog and am so grateful for your detailed, thoughtful reviews of various Korean dramas. You probably don’t remember me, but I loved The Third Charm and posted once on your blog using the handle “erstwing” about how much your review of the show resonated with me.
I have a question about genre that I was wondering if you might address/discuss on your blog one day. What do you make of the label “slice-of-life?” What are some “slice-of-life” Korean dramas and what makes them so?
Based on the shows you have reviewed, I feel like you enjoyed this category of dramas, and thought you might have some wisdom to share. If you do enjoy “slice-of-life” dramas, what are some reasons?
The label is used a lot in Kdrama discourse, but unlike other more established genres like the melodrama and the rom com, “slice-of-life” seems to be much hazier as a concept.
I even did some research into American analogues and/or antecedents, but haven’t been able to find anything meaningful.
Full disclosure: I am a college professor and my current research project investigates the slice-of-life genre in Korean dramas. I’m teaching in the US but I am actually from Singapore, so your blog is literally close to home for me. 🙂
Thanks again for all your insights and for the time you’ve generously given to cultivating this Kdrama fan community. 🙂
One of the original trendies that helped to start it all, Feelings is as much of a nostalgic treat for seasoned viewers, as it is a novel peek into Hallyu’s beginnings for newer viewers.
An easy breezy story with a timeless appeal, Feelings follows a group of young people as they navigate the journey to adulthood, wrestling with classic questions of evolving identity and purpose.
Of course, youthful impulsiveness, angst & good ol’ hormones intensify and amplify their emotions to a distracting degree. Because honestly, at that age, isn’t it really all about feeeelings?
The show’s 20-year vintage shows; the drama’s production values, writing and acting all veer on the side of earnest and a little clumsy. But the retro awesome, from early 90s hair and fashion, to the novelty of seeing established stars in their early years, makes up for it all.
Today’s question is brought to us by Bakazen, who asks:
What is it about bromances that make a kdrama great? I just recently finished watching Doctor Stranger and realized 2 things: LJS is a good actor and I really didn’t like this drama. So why did I finish it? Because I was hooked by the bromance tease between LJS and PHJ.
My personal theory is they work well as substitutes for the sometimes overwhelming lack of affection we see between couples. Guys in bromances show affection, love, solidarity, joy, connection & (dare I say it) skinship!
Nothing warms my heart like one of the F4s coming to a bros rescue, the F44s teasing each other or the leads in School 2013 (LJS & Woobie) saying how much they missed each other’s friendship.
Besides, I rarely get that hooked into the female friendships (major exception, Noh Eun-seol & Lee Myung Ran from Protect the Boss). What do you think?