For the longest time, I was very reluctant afraid to “fall” into the bottomless pit of Korean Dramas. I’ve seen how my friends go gaga about their favorite shows and swoon over their favorite Korean actors aka oppas. Pfft. Please, I will NEVER be like them, said Angel from early this year.
Before the pandemic, the last Korean Drama I’ve watched was Full House back in the early 2000s, which starred Song Hye-kyo and Rain, arguably two of the most prominent Korean actors at that time (even until now). Since then, I’ve never bothered to watch another K-Drama series, primarily because of the prevalence and accessibility of Western shows. I thought that as I matured, so did my tastes, and this reflected on the kind of shows I was watching. Back then, I felt that Western shows were so much above Korean dramas in terms of production value. At least that’s how I remembered it.
Fast forward to 2018 (ish) when Netflix came into the picture, we were all so glued to it that we hardly watch cable TV anymore. Netflix was a real game-changer — it carried so many good shows, and you just needed a decent internet connection and a subscription for it to work. And the best part, for me, was it plays the next episode without even touching the remote or anything at all. It was a dream come true.
Then came the COVID-19 pandemic. We were all forced to stay indoors and confined to our houses. Suddenly, we had so much time in our hands, but we didn’t know what to do with all this time. For some people, they started working on their passion projects or pursued their hobbies. Others continued to work, whether it was in the frontlines or at home. And then, there are others like me who suddenly had all the time to watch all the shows and movies they had been putting off the entire time, because we were all “too busy.”
So one day, at the time of the pandemic, I was scanning Netflix for something new to watch, and I stumbled upon this series called “Crash Landing on You” (or more endearingly known as CLOY). So many people have been raving about it; I’ve seen it all over my Facebook feed, saying it’s one of the best Korean dramas ever, blah blah. So I thought, maybeeeeeee I’ll just give it a chance? One episode perhaps? Hohoho. Little did I know that that would open me up to the beautiful world of Korean Dramas.
Since then, I never looked back. I even became obsessed! I finished one show after another, without realizing how many episodes I’ve watched in one sitting. I. COULDN’T. STOP. WATCHING. I hate that I love it so much! Ughhh. As they say, nakain na ako ng sistema.
But when you really think about it, what makes these shows so compelling?! Why can’t we all stop watching?! Is it really all about the good-looking oppas? Well, yes partly. But you see, Korean dramas have figured women out so accurately; they know exactly what we want! And apart from that, they pay attention to so many details.
Based on my very limited knowledge of Korean dramas, I’ve rounded up some reasons why I think Korean Dramas are so addictive:
More often than not, Korean dramas center on the love story of the main characters. The storylines are often not too complicated, but are very unpredictable. This is why you always find yourself at the edge of your seat, trying to figure out what comes next. And there’s nothing better than a show that makes you think, don’t you think? (See what I did there?) I’ve also noticed that while most series run for almost a hundred episodes, Korean Dramas usually only do 16 (a magic number?), so they don’t tend to drag or stretch the story. Oh, and did I mention that they write really well too?
It’s in the big things, and the little things as well. They pay so much attention to detail and the overall aesthetic. In simple terms, everything has to look good on screen -- set, costume, makeup, props, lighting. And they do such a wonderful job at that. You know that a lot of thought was put into making, not just the actors, but the whole show look good. You’ll see what I mean when you watch just one episode.
I really want to commend their wardrobe department and costume designers for doing such an excellent job dressing up all the actors. This is related to my previous comment about production design, but I believe this deserves a special mention. The actors reaallllyyy look good in their outfits, almost like models straight out of the runway. Again, so much attention is put into figuring out the looks that are appropriate for each scene - the right kind of clothing, color, accessory to go with, etc. They probably have mood boards and color palettes for each character based on their personalities or roles. And it also helps that the actors know “how to wear” these clothes. You get what I’m saying, right?
Koreans take their craft so seriously that they go to school for this (yes, they have schools dedicated to acting). But aside from film/acting school (because I don’t think all of them went to acting school), discipline and focus is key to great acting. Perhaps the directors are also a factor. Whatever it is, they do a pretty good job because we get aaaalllll the feels! Korean actors act so naturally. They make their characters so believable and relatable, you’ll think these actors are not acting at all!
More often than not, Korean dramas would feature a slice of Korean culture in their shows, be it in their famous landmarks, food, history, or traditions. Somehow, they find a way to inject these in their stories, and this is very impressive because they use this for tourism (another money-making industry). What else could explain the influx of tourists who visit location sites and line up at restaurants featured in Korean dramas? Brilliant thinking, Korea!
Do I even have to explain any further? <3
So there! Whew, who would have thought that a Kdrama novice like me would have all these realizations after watching a few Kdramas in a span of 3 months? I feel like I’ve been missing out all these years but hey, now I have all the time in the world to catch up!
In the end, I’m happy that I fell into this bottomless pit. Somehow, it makes these unsettling times more bearable. And that’s already getting more than what you came for. ✳︎