Drama Land: An Introduction


the kdrama that employs all kdrama tactics found in here

So, my previous rant on Korean dramas was a little exaggerated. And most of you who do not know me in real life probably think I hate my culture, or at least the media of it.

Well, if you know me in real life, you must’ve laughed at it and gone, “BS.”

Because I am a die-hard fan of Korean dramas. Laugh all you want. But most Westerners think, “Korean dramas? Oh, those soap operas where everyone dies from a car crash or cancer, break up, cry, and look out of windows or stare at their cellphones dramatically.”

HAHAHAHAHAHA.

So true.

Anyways, all mocking aside, no, there are Korean dramas where romance is not the prime storyline. But those are chock full with offenses to my feminist mind, since they always, ALWAYS feature two men trying to kill each other because of revenge/a woman/some weirdly twisted plot point that i never understand. And the women in it? They’re either middle aged, old, or really really hawt. There is no normal sensible girl unless it’s an extra coming out of a bus for two seconds.

So, I go for the trendies.

Trendies is a term for romantic comedy dramas that are so popular nowadays. They feature:

-cliches

-really really REALLY good looking guys who serve as pure eyecandy

-a main lead female who is gorgeous and who the hell is getting fooled, but the producers try to pass her off as a cute, bumbling, clumsy, cheerful, and overall dense

-a main lead male who makes all girls swoon with a smile, but that smile doesn’t appear until his gruff Mr. Darcy exterior is broken by said female lead

-a secondary female lead whose characterization (in most cases) is so shallow and pointless except to serve as a plot point that drives our two main leads apart.Ā  her obsession with the male lead could lead to court cases and mental therapy, but the drama really doesn’t care about boring stuff like that. i could rant on and on about this character, but i’ll put it off to another post.

-a secondary male lead who, opposite of the secondary female lead, LURVES our female lead so much that, unlike his counterpart, only wishes happiness for the lead couple, if it will make his one true love happy. he is always there to be the shoulder for the female lead to cry on when the male lead makes her unhappy, to comfort her. his timing, alas, is terrible, so his love falls for the male lead, who is much less nicer than he is. he is the prince charming everyone dreams of, and most of the female population roots for. of course, there are cases where the secondary lead is as eeevvil as the female second lead, whose obsession might even be greater.

-secondary characters who are: friends, parents, teachers, mentors, bosses, coworkers, employees, etc. They can serve as comic reliefs, other evils that keep our leads apart, or just purely annoying plot points. again. kdrama likes doing that.

That’s only the tip of the pyramid. We can have backstabbing, marriage contracts, crossdressing, wrist-grabbing, car crashes, illegal u-turns when the main (male) lead has a “Eureka!” moment and rushes back somewhere,Ā  stand-ups, a lot of stiff kissing, evil mother-in-laws (to be), funny old grandmas, airport scenes, significant objects of affection, and the star of EVERY SINGLE DRAMA EVER MADE:

Soju.

Lots of it.

If you don’t know what that is, it’s a Korean alchoholic beverage that’s cheap, strong, and tastes like vodka. One of the most common scenes in a Korean drama is our heroine sitting under a red tent (more on that later) at a table, downing one shot after another of soju, preferably with something to eat. And this is after heroic efforts in their job, homes, families, friends, and love life. This is where the main lead comes in during the “You suck, I hate you” phase to piggyback a drunk lead home, because Mr. Darcy, even with his gruff exterior, is still a gentleman.

I call kdramas the Fountain of Cliches. Why? Because anything remotely amusing or interesting used in one drama can be recycled AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN in either the same drama, or others by other directors. It becomes used so much that people actually get offended if they don’t have it in a particular drama.

For example:

The heroic wrist-grab. Personally, I dislike it, because it causes all of my feminist features go screaming. However, this is something used in every. single. drama. EVER. The situation is usually set up like this:

The Main Female Lead and the Main Male Lead (MFL & MML) are out somewhere, where they encounter second male lead/MML’s parents. If the first secenario, it goes like this:

MFL sitting with Second Male Lead (SML) talking or getting somewhat intimate without MFL noticing because she is dense like that. MML sees them and gets angry, because he’s jealous, but he doesn’t get it, because no way in hell is the prideful MML going to admit he’s jealous, but all he knows is that he wants MFL away from SML.

MML: MFL, let’s go.

MFL: Why?

MML (angrily): Because. I. Said. So.

SML: Hey, you’re acting like an overcontrolling jerk.

MML: Shut up. You’re not the main lead feeling spasms of jealousy. MFL, LET’S GO.

MFL: You are a jerk. I HATE YOU.

MML: (grabs wrist) I said, let’s go.

MFL: Hey, let go!

MML: (dragging her away)

SML: You jerk! (punches MML)

MML & SML: (all around duke-out)

MFL: Oh, crap. Did I start this?

MML: (wins fight) (drags MFL away)

MFL: Let go, douchebag! Let go! (pathetic whining)

SML: (watches, also pathetically)

So, yeah. In the second scenario:

MML and MFL are in front of MML’s parents, who look disapproving. MML’s mother starts barbering MFL with questions, because of course MML is the rich heir to some huge company, while MFL is a poor girl who had an even poorer upbringing.

Mommy MML: So, what do your parents do?

MFL: Um…they own a restaurant/market/sell flowers on the street/are dead.

Mommy MML: Oh.Ā (mutters on how she is not fit for her son)

Awkward silence. MFL breaks/spills/hurts something.

Mommy MML: (instant HOW WERE YOU RAISED YOU ARE NOT FIT FOR MY SON outburst)

MML: MOM! Let’s go, MFL.

MFL: What? No, wait–

MML: (grabs wrist, starts pulling) Mom, you were too harsh. We’re leaving. Bye.

MFL: Um, um (secretly not resisting but pretending to) alright, GOODBYE!

Mommy MML: You come back here! UGH!

Papa MML: Hm.

Although the wrist grab is a regular in kdramas, there are too many other cliches, also just as popular, to name.

But those are just simple actions or settings that become familiar as you settle into Drama Land. The plots, however, is another thing.

Most Westerners say, “PSH…Korean dramas? You mean those weepy stories where people meet, fall in love, yet are seperated after five minutes and die of cancers? Forget it.”

Alright. They have a point. One of the most popular dramas of all time, which catapulted their stars into Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie statuses, is Winter Sonata. And it has everything Westerners think would be in Kdrama, and more. Amnesia, car crashes, cancer, fauxcest (something like incest, where they think they’re related, and therefore, OMG CANNOT LURVE EACH OTHER, but they’re not) break ups, make ups, evil parents, etc.

BUT.

That is not the case for nowadays dramas.

Usually, the plots go like this:

We are introduced to our main heroine: poor, cheerful, bumbling. She does things that depicts her as so. Then we switch to the main lead, who in contrast is rich, mean, arrogant, and did I say rich? However, he is an inner softy. Our heroine and main lead meet through certain circumstances that cause them to hate each other. However, as they keep meeting, and the hero starts helping out the heroine a bit in her financial circumstances, they begin to care for each other. Enter our second leads. Second male lead is depicted as heroic lover who offers a shoulder to the heroine. Second female lead is depicted as shallow bitch who clings and clings onto our hero, who used to have feelings for her. After alot of antics and fights and crying, the two main leads get together, preferably marrying. The end.

It’s pretty simple, and it’s recycled alot, but causes no end of excitement to the younger female generation, and sometimes to the older.

Anyways, seeing I’ve ranted enough, I’ll be out with post number two, which explains the dynamics between our second leads. Otherwise known as, The Obsession Cases of SML and SFL.

That is all.

~nemphy

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6 Comments

Filed under Drama Land

6 responses to “Drama Land: An Introduction

  1. Sue

    Just wondering…. and I started noticing….
    Do Korean film companies start/ invent/ make up baseless gossips to start people’s interest in the debut of a drama?

    e.g. rumours of romance of the MML and MFL because of the filming of a new drama……. so that people will watch and love the new couple….. then have the news clarified as false when the drama ends.?!?!

    ummmmm… just something I suspect…. Mind clarifying my doubts with your insights?

    • the thing with korean rumors is that korea isn’t very free with press like the US is, so most rumors begin with netizens. say, if someone takes a photo of two celebs eating lunch together and uploads it to the internet, it’s bound to cause tons of comments. korean companies can tweak this to their advantage by making it seem like the couple onscreen have tons of chemistry based on their interactions in real life. also, alot of koreans watch the behind-the-scenes to dramas and movies, and when the main couple seems to be getting cozy and friendly, dating rumors are going to pop up. there’s tons of ways rumors can spread, such as a drama couple being lovey-dovey at a variety show.

      but for your example, it is possible that companies can spread the rumors, but it’s much more like that people commented on how close a couple seemed during the first few shoots, since they probably did a lot of promotion with some behind-the-scene footage and comments from the actors. i’m not sure which actors you’re referring to (sorry…the acronyms…) so I’m not sure what type of rumors are spreading, but it’s not really common for korean film companies to start baseless gossip and then prove it false. they usually leave that up to the audience šŸ™‚

      sorry for the long answer, and thanks for enjoying my blog!

  2. alexe

    So true , so funny , I do like your blog . Keep on writing !

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