24 February 2014

10 Things To Know Before Watching Kdramas! (Part 1)

Korean Dramas. Kdramas, for short. Sounds innocent right? Uninteresting, maybe? Ok, but not special?  Wrong! My new addiction is more time consuming than I was expecting... so here are a few tips for those considering joining the club. Yes, it's kinda a club!

10.  Lots of fun memes, graphics, pics, etc!

9. Totally different series format from American or British dramas or prime time shows. 

English-speaking shows may or may not have story lines that tie a season together.  Most are single episodes that will building on the characters and the show definition but can be stand-alone.  A murder to be solved this week.  A law case or hospital patient to save. A monster to kill or relocate. Some shows have intense arcs that follow season to season. They air once a week, sometimes skipping many in between and some even take up to a year or more off between seasons! (Grrr Sherlock. I'm looking at you Mr. Moffet!)
Korean Dramas are one story, airing once or twice a week until done. And that's it. One looooong movie.  A mini-series, by U.S. standards. No season 2. Rarely, a show will have a sequel or prequel but they will feature an all-new cast. Each show varies from 16-24 episodes that are about 60-80 minutes long, no commercials.  There are time-slots, just like here... Monday-Tuesday, Wednesday-Thursday, Friday only, Saturday-Sunday.  The Friday & Saturday-Sunday shows are a bit different and I haven't dived into these yet.  If there is gonna be a cliff hanger, it's gonna happen on the even number episodes so you have to wait days and days to find out what happens! Or - you could be like me and wait until the show is finished so you can watch the whole season at once! (Well, not in one sitting... you know what I mean!) The weekend serials are ongoing and can have 50-100 episodes or more! Quite a commitment. [Pictured is Lee Min-ho as General Choi Young on Faith (The Great Doctor) that aired, as you can see, on Monday & Tuesdays.]
8. They can be hard to find! English sub-titles are not guaranteed!
If you are lucky, you have access NetFlix &/or Hulu (doesn't have to be Hulu Plus) or you are sunk.  Region 1 DVDs are not to be found, much to my despair.  DVD sets of most of the shows can be found for Region 3 but that's it for now.  Hopefully, the growing popularity over here will encourage South Korea to add a Region 1 assembly line to where ever their publishers are located! 

The majority of the English subs are done by fan sites or third-party groups like DramaFever & Viki.com. Both groups host some episodes on their websites and have YouTube & Pinterest channels. The more you watch, the more you learn the subs are really subjective to the translator.  The same word can be translated differently from show to show.  Or phrases will be skipped entirely. What's fun is when there is a non-Korean speaking character and they have the Korean subtitles behind the English subtitles. Context clues will help you decipher what was just said!  
7.  A whole new culture to learn about. Relationships are defined differently. 
Not just the sights, sounds, and foods but how things are done, culturally accepted ideas and actions.  Class standards... the rich vs. the poor.  Holding hands in public is practically being engaged. Well, not really. But close. Sleeping together most often means... actually sleeping, awkward maybe, but sleeping. They eat lots and lots and lots of noodles.  Fancy noodles, simple noodles, noodles with rice.  Some of the shows will make you really hungry. Most of the shows based in modern times are set in or around Seoul. Vacations are taken on the coast or JeJu Island... if you are mega-rich, you own an island in the JeJu Province. Yep... *own* the island. The rich are usually mega-rich and the poor are working several jobs to get by... but no matter the socioeconomic group you fall into, you will have the biggest, newest Samsung cell phone.  Most of the shows set in historical times are from the late Goryeo (918-1382) or Joseon (1382-1897) eras. Among many other things, the Goryeo period contributed the name Korea and during the Joseon era, the written language of Korea, Hangul, was developed.  Previously, Chinese characters were used for Korean words & pronunciations, called hanja.
The new baseball-relationship metaphor diagram! The "wrist-grab & drag" is *very* popular but doesn't depict a specific emotion... could be irritated, happy, sad, angry, frustrated, excited... you never know, and often the one being dragged is confused. Never have I seen so many piggyback rides.  Hurt & dying... piggyback ride to the hospital.  Sprained ankle... piggyback to where ever you were going, then back. Romantic gesture or emergency measure, the piggyback ride will most likely make an appearance in your favorite kdrama.  Back-hugs... self-explanatory and awesome. I think only 1 drama I've watched so far hasn't had one of these.  It's Lee Min-ho's signature move in Heirs as Park Shin-hye is always running away! If you love great kisses, (who doesn't really?!) kdramas will be rough (so Korean writers, I guess).  My #1 historical fav has 2 kisses in 24 episodes, both not what you'd expect.  My #1 modern fav has 3 (and she missed the first one... spoilers!) in 17 episodes.  Three times is actually a lot! *Sigh*
6. Evil parents.
No really... horrible, terrible, easily win super villain contests with comic book characters... bad, bad parents. With shockingly few exceptions.
One drama has a "mom" who sells her daughter (in an arranged marriage) to add a hotel line to her business.  Her son fell in love with the poor daughter of a dry cleaner, so what does she do... lock him up with bodyguards posted at his bedroom door and window. Kidnap the girl to scare her into leaving. Doesn't work? Buy the building with the family business/home just to evict them and force them out of town.  When the daughter stays to go to school and work, find out she lives in a slum and overnight buys the building and orders demolition for the following morning, barely allowing people to pack a suit case. Still doesn't work? Go after every friend she loves and destroy whatever they have. Meanwhile, she has faked her husbands death because he had a stroke and that just doesn't look good so tell your kids and the world that he is dead while you stick him in a hospice center waiting for him to actually die. Yeah.
Another features a "dad" who was a leader in military special forces.  An unsanctioned mission is wiped clean by killing the 20 men involved but one survives. He steals the 3 week old baby of his murdered best friend (co-leader of the mission) to raise him as a warrior to take revenge on the 5 politically powerful men behind the murders. Can't raise the boy in Korea, so let's try the drug trafficking triangle of Thailand.  Never slow down on training, rain or shine, 6 or 16, push constantly. Then when the boy is on the verge of becoming a decent man despite his raising, tell him that his mother abandoned him and his real father was murdered, that his destiny is to avenge his father and the others that died. Except, this awesome kid wants justice, not revenge, so he must sacrifice almost everything to stay ahead of his adopted dad to locate the powerful 5 and document their corruption so they can stand trial before dear ole dad can kill them. Oh and favorite training tool... shoot the *something* on this person you love or I'll kill them. (Pictured)

And the Top 5 Things To Know Before Watching Kdramas... coming soon! ^_^