Dramatic Talk


Anything You Ever Wanted to Talk About in the K-Drama World

Back in the day when the "Kdrama Community" was a largely undeveloped concept centered around daily escapades to Soompi.com (I'm talking about the early 2000's and Ryu Si-Won's bleached hairdo here, for the apparently not-so-young-anymore amongst us) to talk about entertainment products that most likely nobody around you was watching, there was never the feeling that our hobby (or mildly OCDish pastime, if you will) would grow to become the juggernaut of popular acceptance it is today. It was merely the bittersweet realization that to find fellow acolytes of this weird creed, we had to find a forum. Couldn't just walk down the street and chat it out with people.

That's because if in 2002 I mentioned that popular singer PSY was in a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo in dorky comedy 몽정기 (Wet Dreams), people around me and possibly around you would most certainly have reacted with a placid: "Wow, Bubba. That's a big fucking achievement. So who's PSY again?" Try telling them now.

Sorry about that.

It's no secret by now that, despite all the conflicting data and ruminations on the matter I subjected you to for the last 15 years, the Korean Wave made quite a few victims. There are now online streaming platforms focusing on Korean content with millions of subscribers, the major blogs reach four-digit Alexa.com worldwide ranks (that's a big deal, for you normal, non-SEO-enhanced folks out there), and dramas even make quite a few nickels overseas. That eclectic community, as it was known, has grown into a gigantic fan-base; one that is as intricately structured as a maze, and sometimes just as dispersive.  

So what happened is that here at Dramatic Eye, where we try to give some perspective to this craze, we thought about putting this community in, well, perspective. 

Who are we? Who are some of the people who helped shape this gigantic fanbase, which started off from what I'd argue were only a few thousand passionate early adopters, and has grown into what today is likely an audience of a few millions. I call them "adopters" because "pioneers" would be a tad too elitist. But think of all the bloggers, the subtitlers, the people who day after day and year after year helped this fanbase grow. 

That's whom we're interested in.  

Starting with our relaunch on May 1, we will conduct interviews with some of these major players, early adopters of this community who stood out back then for their eclectic voice, and still do to this day. Interview is a bit reductive, because they'll most likely be free-flowing, stream-of-consciousness chats not unlike what you'd see on something like NBA TV's Open Court.  

What role will you play in this (well, assuming you're not part of those we will interview)?

Make this your own introductory space. Use the comment section to, yes, talk about Kdramas. But do so in a way that deals with why we're here to talk about Kdramas in the first place. Call them meta-comments. Think of a few general questions like these:

  • What has joining the Kdrama community meant for you on a personal level? Did you reap rewards that went beyond the simple idea of meeting like-minded people online (so real life friendships, job opportunities, epiphanies in life)
  • How has watching Kdramas shaped the way you approach different forms of entertainment, or even television from other countries - including your own (did it make you more sensitive to violent and sexual content? Did it make you long for more diversity/appreciate the diversity you can find elsewhere, shape the way you watch television)
  • Going beyond the "15 minutes of fame" mindset that categorizes most buzzworthy shows the Kdrama community becomes infatuated with -- remember the frenzy over 꽃보다 남자 (Boys Over Flowers) -- what are the shows and the players (actors, writers, producers) that still echo in your mind? Who would you recommend to people who still have not joined this world, and why?

Those are just a few subjects, but you're free to engage in anything you want. Just put some thought into it... let's make this a serious, open conversation on what being a Kdrama fan has meant for you.


DRAMATIC TALK 1.1 - BACK TO THE FUTURE [@daheefanel, @langdon813]

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  • Gasenadi

    Yes, I’ve made real-life and on-line friends due to watching kdrama. Sadly, I missed the recent yearly bash hosted by Maestra Pyoni where we can eat authentic Korean food, buy tchotchkes and sit around talking about dramas and support her students’ next trip to South Korea.
    What most struck me about discovering kdrama was a wierd sense of witnessing a parallel universe, like being at HOME but in another language and culture. The same beautiful landscape, the haphazard urban sprawl with its meandering, laberyinth streets, the same economic inequality blatantly apparent. Very rare in telenovelas. And, I’ll admit, the Robin Hood theme of fighting corruption in very high places just reeled me in when I saw my very first kdrama. PLUS the ost! Mesmerizing how similar the situations were, how universal the themes. Then, one day, reading an article in the Vault, it made complete sense. Something about South Korea’s relatively new sovereignty. Except we don’t have sovereignty. So I started reading up more about its history (some fascinating stuff about our own 65th Infantry, too) and finding even more similarities. Come to realize some of the dramas and movies opened my eyes to my own surroundings more than the local (or “national”) newspapers and movies. Thanks to kdrama (and Mr. X’s repeated lectures) nothing is black and white anymore. Everything is grey and nuanced and complex. And human.
    I’d decades ago stopped watching regular tv or movies. Just documentaries and the occasional action or suspense film, repeating favorites. Once my daughter hooked me on kdrama with one fateful email, it’s been all Korean fare, all the time. Then somehow a link to The Vault appeared and it was whatever Mr. X suggested, which is how I also binged on Friday Night Lights, Parenthood, The Wire and Breaking Bad, among others.
    From the very first moment, I ached for Puerto Rico’s short-lived industry. I couldn’t help but lament that while South Korea (and other countries) could make dramas about historical figures and moments in history, we still have soo many stories left untold. Luckily some of the industry has survived on Youtube (“Hasta el fondo del dolor”, “Revolución en el infierno”) and other places. Some brave souls are crowd-sourcing their productions (El Antillano, for example) and trying to make them accessible to all, including those without computers. While I’m glad that veteran Ivonne Coll, powerhouse Benicio del Toro and genius Lin-Manuel, etc., etc., are doing well over THERE, over HERE premier actors are bravely producing one-man/one-woman shows in order to continue to work their art. Or are working for the multinationals. Or have been downsourced.
    FINALLY, phew, those dramas and movies that still echo in my mind (and heart) are NOT necessarily the ones I would recommend to others. Sandglass and Chuno -yes, and Shin Don- impacted me deeply. (NEVER in my life had I cried, in public, when remembering a tv series or movie like I did after finishing Chuno – after 3 days! And it never fails to produce the same feelings, 4 re-watches later.) I know my peeps, now, and would recommend the first one I saw, suggested by my daughter, City Hunter. The OST hooked me as did the betrayal of that special ops team. Nobody does betrayal like kdrama. Or abandonment issues. Or intrigue. Or… OK, I’m done.

  • missjb21

    I start to following Korean Drama from 2004, But vacum after that. It’s make me regretting it because I heard 2007 is full of pack a good classic drama from The Devil, Que Sera Sera, etc.. My first drama since vacum is You’re Beautiful. For me at that time who are new to korean drama, It seems like a gem to me. Might be due to in my country, there are so many bad drama, bad acting, and bad on overall quality, even if it’s repetitive for some, for me it’s kind new and make me following korean drama since. So I start following other korean drama bloggers, that unfortunately several of them seems they have been having along hiatus from korean drama now. (Well, I have a hiatus to after 2012, I get busy and has a long hiatus). From them I start to following their fav drama, Because i get bored following drama when there are multiple drama/movie with the same plot and story, there is several story with a good idea and have a good start, but somehow lost the plot after that.

    Come to think of it, watching Movie or Drama continuously gain you experience, and if u take a look deeper , u start to realize little by little what makes drama, movie, or other show good and how care the production is to create their own show.

    Talk about Subtittle, I start to miss the moment when withs2 is still active. It might be take them 2-3 weeks for the actual subs to come, but they subs it with quality subs. I start to miss that too.

  • Nur Iffah

    I watched Jdrama then Kdrama and eventually become Kpop fans. In Indonesia, watching Kdrama (or Jdrama) means dubbing, never thought it as weird til I found out DVDs. Clearly its all trendy drama, which still its way more advanced and interesting than any Indonesian TV series. I still remember my first K drama, it was the gloriously makjang and addictive Autumn in My Heart.

    For now, I might be pickier in choosing drama, but dramas that picked my interest are not always from the same genre. I can watch and like anything ranging from romantic comedy to noir (okay, maybe only Cruel City). Am also one of few people that love Whats Up without reservation. Jo Jung Suk belting out is very acceptable for me indeed.

    One of the things that maybe make me not look for community online because I have friends to talk about K dramas about. Just fans gushing and sometimes surface critics. Indonesia currently in full-mode Korean fever so people liking and talking about Kdrama or Kpop is
    common. If I find the online community in 2007 when I barely have anyone to talk about K-drama, those time my close friends are looking weirdly on my crazy habit of waking up til 3am watching dramas. I probably be more daring to approach.

    I like talking about Korean drama, I learned a little bit of Korean and can pick up some basic conversation. I talked about Kdrama in Quora a little bit. I think I’m going to be in the Kdrama vehicle for a while. I’ve taken some time off from Kdrama, but never last more than 6months.

    • Has it grown over there recently? Exports to Indonesia are more or less stable but not too statistically significant (think 2-3% of the export pie), so it’s hard to gauge how things are going.

      • Nur Iffah

        Indonesia(n) will not pay much for Kdrama. Even when Kmovies air in cinema the response is rarely good. I measure the growth not only from TV but also general reaction from people when I say I like Korean drama.

        I seldom watch anything on TV at the moment, so I might be wrong. However, some changes I notice are Kdrama is airing on prime time (in 2000-s it used to aired at 4pm), the always sold out Kpop concert and the online community. Personally, I wrote occasional review in local forum. Yet, if you’re speaking Indonesian there are a lot of subs and sites for recaps and reviews.

        I made this comparison before, its between Kdrama and Bollywood. People on the street will recognize both Shahrukh Khan and Lee Minho. But not everyone will not know Song Hye Kyo in contrast to Aishwarya Rai.