8 Things I wish I knew before I started K-dramas
How long have you been watching K-dramas? If you could go back to the beginning of your journey, what advice would you give to yourself? I've been an avid drama watcher for over eight years, and as I look back I've found that there were a number of things I wish I had known from the start.
Here are 8 useful tips for those of you that are brand new to Dramaland! And for you K-drama veterans, come take a trip down memory lane!
1. Be ready to become addicted
Let's be honest: K-dramas are a commitment. We should all know by now that it's practically impossible to just watch one episode. Casual TV watchers beware: you won't likely hold up well in this environment! Even when you finish a drama, chances are you will then immediately go off in search of dramas that also star your favorite leads. It’s an almost inevitable, yet highly enjoyable, downward spiral into Dramaland.
Also FYI: 10 p.m. during finals week is probably not the best time to decide to give dramas a try... be sure to plan accordingly!
2. Be ready to fall in love (over and over again)
These guys are hot. I mean, I could already tell that from the poster when I clicked on my first K-drama (My Girl, in case you were wondering), but I had no idea just how hard it would hit me!
But it's not just their gorgeous looks. It's that their looks are combined with swoon-worthy dating tactics and romantic gestures. It really makes a winning combination! The numerous brooding shower scenes and the perfectly tailored suits on the chaebol leading men are extra icing on the cake.
I walked away from my first drama questioning how I could already have fallen in love with a drama character in just a few short hours. Lee Dong Wook, I’m glad you were my first K-drama love, but I also didn’t quite understand at the time that you would only be the first of many, many more. Be prepared to give your love to many different K-drama actors. It really is almost impossible to just have one true K-drama love!
3. Bring a friend — it makes for an even more enjoyable experience!
I started watching dramas with my best friend (fellow DramaFever writer KDbonbon), and it really made the whole experience come to life! We could instantly gush over our new favorite leading man or spazz out about the evil second lead bitch.
When trying to get a fellow friend into K-dramas, I've found that it can be much easier when both people are brand new to Dramaland. Starting with a clean slate means that you both get to explore this wonderful and vast genre of entertainment at the same pace. I'm sure many of you have tried to convert a friend to dramas, and I'm also sure you already know that it's not an easy process! My advice: it's best to start right away with a buddy at your side.
And if your K-drama friend recruitment fails, don't worry! There's a wonderful and vibrant internet community that loves to talk about K-dramas. You are never alone in your obsession!
4. Your mom may also love K-dramas
About three years into my K-drama addiction, my mom finally broke down and agreed to watch an episode of Coffee Prince. By the end of the night, she was completely hooked and now she may have even seen more dramas than I have... (which is not a small number at all!) You may already be looking to convert to a close friend to K-dramas, but be sure not to overlook your mom! She may just be the perfect drama-watching buddy.
I can attest, watching dramas with my mom has brought us even closer. I literally call her daily to discuss what episodes we watched the night before. It’s perfect! And now she finally understands why I pull all-nighters when marathoning my favorite K-dramas. Understanding is a huge plus!
5. The older classic dramas are classics for a reason. Don't skip over them!
It may be easy to just keep clicking on the newest and hottest dramas that come out of Korea, but the classic dramas are also very much worth watching! When I first started out, I didn’t have a lot of direction regarding what I should watch next, and I definitely skipped over some great titles in favor of newer series. Now I’m playing catch up, and I wish I had known more about the older classics first. Then again, I started K-dramas in 2007, so many of the “new” dramas I had watched at that time are now considered older classics… sigh.
6. Tears will be shed. Be ready to cry.
When I started my first drama, I went in with the assumption that all shows had largely happy-go-lucky plot lines without much emotional depth — BOY, WAS I WRONG. While I’m not in the least bit disappointed that these shows can push your emotions to the absolute limits, a little warning would have been nice. From sudden amnesia, terminal cancer, or just ridiculous noble idiocy, the best love stories cannot end without first experiencing some heart-wrenching angst. You will feel the complete spectrum of emotion.
7. Don't expect K-dramas to be formatted like American TV
I wish I had known more about the format of K-dramas when I began. In general, prime time K-dramas will air twice a week with a total of 16 or 20 episodes. I just love how we get two hours of content each each instead of one!
What's one of the biggest differences when Korean and American dramas? Korean shows have a definite ending! A second season is a very rare occurrence in Dramaland and is usually only reserved for the very best shows. I remember finishing my first K-drama and doing a quick Google search of "My Girl Season 2." I wish I had known not to get my hopes up!
Nowadays I also find myself wishing that some American shows would test out the K-drama broadcast style. The closest equivalent I can think of is a mini series, but these are generally few and far between and rarely part of a prime time lineup. The great thing about dramas is the concise story that has a clear beginning, middle, and end. Most American shows just keep going, season after season, until the crazy and never-ending plot lines finally cause the viewership to fizzle out. In the end, the show's overall quality and lasting memory is usually damaged by a lackluster final few seasons.
While the K-drama format isn't perfect, especially when you just want to see your favorite characters for an unlimited amount of episodes, I've certainly come to embrace and look forward to this story telling style week after week!
8. Dramas will likely change your life (for the better!)
Not only will you probably have some more sleepless nights filled with K-drama marathons, but watching K-dramas also opens yourself up to experience a new culture and language.
After a few dramas, you will likely already be planning out your epic vacation to Korea or trying to make some delicious Korean food at home. And who knows, more than a few of you probably will end up going to Korea to to study or to work one day. Watching dramas really can change your life!
Be sure to sit back and enjoy the ride!
Looking for a new drama to feed your K-drama addiction? Try Lee Joon's current series Heard It through the Grapevine:
Do you agree with my advice? What else do you wish you knew before watching K-dramas? Did you have any idea how much your life would change when you began?
Please share your thoughts and experiences below!