K-drama Confessional #3: What are your favorite K-drama cliches?
Welcome back, everyone, to the third installment of K-drama Confessional! This time, KD Bonbon and Rara Pop will be discussing a topic that often divides drama fans: K-drama cliches! From wrist grabs to contract relationships, the K-drama-loving friends dish out their thoughts on these Dramaland staples.
Keep reading to see if your favorite (or least favorite) K-drama cliche is mentioned. And if this is your first time tuning into K-drama Confessional, be sure to check out the first and second installments as well!
Rara: Today we are going to tackle one of my all-time favorite topics in Dramaland: cliches!
KD: Every K-drama lover knows that cliches are an inescapable part of a good drama. K-dramas thrive off of cliches! And let’s be honest: we love it!
Rara: The cliches really help to add that extra spark! No matter how obvious or predictable, I find myself falling time and time again for the same tropes and actions. I can’t help but enjoy them!
KD: It’s so true. And while I do love new and innovative story lines and situations, a sprinkle of cliche is always appreciated!
Rara: So KD, do you have a favorite cliche?
KD: Picking a favorite is difficult, but the first one that comes to mind is the infamous piggyback ride. I love a good piggyback ride!
Rara: Such a classic! Honestly I sometimes feel like a show, especially a rom-com, is incomplete without at least one. It’s part of the K-drama universe rules.
KD: Definitely one of the more important drama rules! And I love all the varieties of piggyback rides! You have the too-tired-to-walk piggyback ride in Pasta, the too-drunk-to-make-it-home piggyback ride as seen in My Lovely Sam Soon, the reverse-girl-carries-guy piggyback ride as seen in Coffee Prince...so many fantastic rides!
Rara: Oh and don’t forget the epic bromance piggyback ride from Pinocchio! Two of my favorite K-drama tropes in one great moment!
KD: Oh man! That is a great one! Readers, if you love piggyback rides as much as we do, DramaFever has a whole article devoted to this awesome way to get around HERE.
Rara: I know we could go on about piggyback rides for a long time but we should probably keep moving through our favorite cliches...but first, THIS:
KD: So adorable! But you’re right, we must keep trekking on. So Rara, what is your favorite K-drama cliche?
Rara: Ahhhh don’t make me pick… but after talking about piggyback rides, the next cliche that instantly comes to mind is the infamous and swoon-worthy back hug!
KD: Back hugs are so sweet and loving and always make me happy. Especially the one above from My Love From Another Star!
Rara: You know when a character gives a back hug they are really committed to the other half. Skinship is always such a big obstacle for the main characters to overcome in Dramaland and the back hug is usually the point where the characters finally admit and confirm their feelings. It’s just so sweet!
KD: It’s so true! If there’s one thing I’ve noticed after watching K-dramas for so long it’s that K-drama characters often have trouble verbally admitting their feelings. Dramas usually depend on more physical displays of affection to help the characters finally realize and admit their feelings.
Rara: I love the no-don’t-leave-I-actually-can’t-live-without you back hug. There’s just so much passion in that one. Heirs was certainly chock full of that variety of hug!
KD: Back hugs are definitely one of the K-drama cliches that I wish would (and hopefully will) happen to me in real life! Preferably by Lee Min Ho himself...maybe that’s too much to ask...
Rara: We can all dream! But you know which cliche I wouldn’t want to have happen to me (besides the dreaded amnesia)?
KD: Haha which one?
Rara: The wrist grab! It just looks rather painful… and much too forceful.
KD: Ooo yes. That is one cliche that can definitely stay in Dramaland!
Rara: It looks nice and dramatic on screen, but if you actually needed my attention, please just ask me to turn around.
KD: Yes, in real life the wrist grab would not be so nice! But you’re right about how it looks on screen. It’s a powerful moment that holds so much power in a drama. Like in Master's Sun or Secret Garden. I would also love to see more leading ladies grabbing the man’s wrist though! That would be a nice change in pace!
Rara: If we want to talk about dramatic wrist grabs, we have to mention the epic three-way version! That just takes them to a whole new level.
Rara: I have to say that one of my all-time favorite wrist grabs is the one in Healer when he grabs Young Shin’s arm when she is leaving her one-sided “date” with Healer. She didn’t even know his real identity at that point, but their emotions and intensity were so amazing!
KD: See this is why I have such mixed feelings about wrist grabs! That Healer moment is so sweet!
Rara: It certainly was a special moment! It seems like most K-drama fans have mixed feelings on the topic of wrist grabs, but I think we can all agree that they are certainly dramatic!
KD: One K-drama cliche that I’m always a fan of are contract relationships! This happens when two characters are thrown together and forced to create and pretend to be in a real relationship even though they really don’t know each other at all.
KD: Yes. It doesn’t matter what kind of contract it is, I love it. In My Girl was a fake cousin contract, in Marriage Not Dating it was a marriage contract. Do you have a personal favorite contract relationship from a drama, Rara?
Rara: A classic one that always gets me right in the heart is Delightful Girl Choon Hyang.
Rara: While their "fake" marriage was technically legal, it definitely invoked all the right contract marriage tropes! Two opposite and always bickering individuals who eventually find love while living under the same roof. Perfect!
KD: That’s a great one! My personal favorite is the relationship between Ah Jung and Ki Joon in Lie to Me!
KD: It was fun to see how Ah Jung’s lie that she was married to the wealthy hotel CEO snowballed so fast until the point that Ki Joon just decided to go along with it. Thus their beautiful (and kinda crazy) fake marriage was born!
Rara: I know this isn’t a huge part of the drama, but I really love the beginning of Coffee Prince when Eun Chan pretends to be Han Kyul’s fake boyfriend. It’s such an excellent scene!
KD: I forgot about that part of the story! That’s a great one. Annnnd it’s a perfect segue to my next favorite K-drama cliche! The iconic mistaken identity/gender confusion cliche!
Rara: Coffee Prince is my gold standard for this cliche — it’s just done so well! I mean, I know Yoon Eun Hye could never actually pass as a boy, but she really did sell me with her emotions and acting!
Rara: I can’t wait to see how Ji Sung Joon reacts to the truth about his first love! I always look forward to the big reveal! *prays for a fitting revelation*
KD: The big reveal is so important in dramas that center around the mistaken identity plot. The timing has to be perfect! If the drama waits too long for the reveal, it can feel dragged out and boring after a while. But if the drama builds the reveal up perfectly, it makes for an amazing story-changing climax! Then you have to hope that the characters can rebound from the big reveal and find their perfect ending...
Rara: Chances are they will get their happy ending, but it’s not guaranteed that the viewers will be satisfied with how the story turns out.
KD: That is very true. And like you said before, Coffee Prince is a perfect example of this cliche being handled perfectly. When Han Kyul finds out that Eun Chan is a girl, he is absolutely stunned and heartbroken. He was completely ready to accept Eun Chan as a man and start a relationship with him and then he finds out that the whole time Eun Chan was a woman? Can you imagine?! He was devastated, and as a viewer, I really felt his pain.
Rara: Ahhhh the feels!
KD: So. Many. Feels.
Rara: Ok, here's something that would actually be unique in the K-drama cliche world: a drama that deliberately tries to use ALL the best K-drama cliches. They could even make that part of their marketing campaign. “Sure it’s all been done, but has it ALL been done at once!? Tune in on Monday to see if we can live up to your wildest expectations!”
KD: I think that would be a fantastic premise for a drama! I love when shows intentionally try to cater to their audience and give them exactly what they want.
Rara: I mean, weekend makjang dramas basically already do use a cliche quota system, but I would pay good money for a show to actually admit it!
You know what would be a super fun game to play?! K-drama Cliche Bingo!
KD: Oooo so much potential! I can already imagine the scorecards…
Rara: Evil mothers, piggyback rides, wrist grabs, loan sharks - there’s so many great cliches to add to the cards!
KD: Well I guess we know what we’re doing this weekend! K-drama marathon + Bingo!
Rara: Yes!! I just hope you don’t get amnesia between then and now... Can’t have you forgetting about our Bingo plans!
KD: I will try my best but you never know what will happen in Dramaland!
Rara: It’s true. I’d say from my careful and rigorous study of Dramaland, there’s about a 30% chance you will contract amnesia during your lifetime.
KD: But know what’s even more likely? Accidentally falling and kissing a stranger. K-dramas have definitely lead me to believe that is a problem I should be encountering more…
KD: Oh lord. If only!
Rara: Life sure is tough in Dramaland! That must be why there’s such a need for obligatory brooding shower scenes. Those guys really have a lot on their mind!
KD: Well if steamy showers are what hot K-drama men need to do to remain stress free, I’m all for it!
Rara: Certainly no complaints here! The more I talk about K-drama cliches, more and more of them keep popping in my head! This list could honestly be never-ending! I don’t know about you, but I feel all warm and fuzzy inside after hashing out our favorite cliches. So many great memories!
KD: I agree! K-drama cliches are certainly one of my favorite things about K-dramas! Besides the swoon-worthy men...but we already pretty much covered that last time!
Rara: Readers, now it’s your turn to share with us which K-drama cliches are your favorites! We know we didn’t get to everything so please keep adding more to our list!
KD: Yes we would love to hear from you! And don’t forget to check out the previous articles in our K-drama Confessional series:
Rara: Man, now I really want to play some K-drama Cliche Bingo...
KD: Good thing I just made this awesome Bingo card!
Rara: That's fantastic! Tune in next time to K-drama Confessional! We’re off to play some Bingo!
KD Bonbon loves dogs and enjoys listening to K-pop and watching Korean dramas in her spare time. Whenever she’s not working her 9-5 corporate job, she’s writing for DramaFever News. Follow KD Bonbon on Twitter and read her latest article here!