Guide to Korean Dramas ~ #Kdrama 101: What is K-drama? [Class 1 ]

Hello. This is a Korean in America.

Have you tried to get into K-dramas before and did not really get it?
Have you just got into the habit of watching K-dramas because your friends keep telling you to get on the band wagon?

While trying to get through the current bad crop of K-dramas, I thought to do an introduction to K-drama for the less well initiated to the medium.

This is class 1: Introduction.

What is K-drama or Korean Drama?

Broadly, it describes the scripted TV shows that are produced in Korea for Korean audiences.  

However, this description is not specific enough to capture the essence of what K-dramas are.

It is not similar to how the terms British TV shows and U.S. TV shows are used.

These terms encompass a more diverse range of shows in different genres with vastly different characteristics and audiences. They are truly board terms.

J-dramas are scripted TV shows that are produced in Japan for Japanese audiences.  K-drama is a more specialized type of shows in the vein of U.S. procedurals.

In contrast, K-dramas essentially constitute a single genre. For people who have seen some K-dramas before, you may not agree with this statement.  

Yes, I know of the different type of shows.

On the surface, there seems to be many genres in K-dramas such as fantasy and period pieces. However, it is actually difficult to categorize them as anything other than subgenres that incorporate some different minor story elements. Simply put, the shows share too many elements among them and their audiences generally overlap considerable.  The most evident fact that K-dramas are in the same genre and not a collection of diverse genres is that the objective of the storytelling is the same across the board.

The main objective of the story is getting the breading pair together and nothing more!

Again, what is K-drama?

At its core, K-dramas are basically the old U.S. Soap Opera genre updated for the modern age with an Asian twist. It is intended to push your melodramatic button to the maximum at the expense of everything else in regard to storytelling.

If you combine trashy melodramas with highbrow romances out of the Jane Austen library, you will get K-dramas. Oh, and you will need to add some new-money snobbery and some oddly socialistic pompousness to get the recipe just right.

Some of K-dramas’ characteristics include:

A serialize type of storytelling with mini arcs spread around multiple episodes

An emphasis on character interaction rather than plot

A small world with everyone ending up knowing each other

A lack of focus on an overall story objective or themes

A thin plot that is padded with fillers to extend the air time

Terribly inconsistent pacing of the story

Most of the good writing is frontloaded

Wondering if you will like K-dramas?

If the characteristics mentioned a moment ago puts you off…

If you are not a person who would end up getting caught up in a Soap opera if traveled back in time 20 years using a time machine…

If you like cutting edge sophisticated story telling or subtle acting…

You are not the target audience for K-dramas!

Who is the target audience for K-dramas?

Well... let’s just say that the main audience for K-dramas are 30 + married females in Korea. I’m not trying to be sexists.

If you still are interesting in K-drama, than follow me through following classes.

Ding Dong!! (School bell rings)

End of class!  Now get out of here and do your homework.


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