Goodbye the real world, hello full on sobbing at 2am.
(Image credit: Goblin: The Great and Lonely God/tVN)
Working from home during this COVID crisis has got everyone trying new things and finding new hobbies—so it comes as no surprise that I’m one of them. Once, I’d scoff at the idea of binge-watching Korean dramas (hereafter will be known as ‘K-Dramas’)… that is, until I started getting bored of the constant routine of waking up, working and then going to bed all in one space. Sure, there was jiu-jitsu, gym, and the occasional Playstation game, but there’s only so much routine one can do before you want to break from it.
So, I decided to head onto Netflix and watch a K-Drama. Oh boy, was I in for a ride. Initially, my intention was to watch only Fantasy-themed dramas like Goblin and Tale of the Nine-Tailed. But of course, things don’t ever go as planned. I ended up watching others like Vincenzo, Coffee Prince and, most recently, Crash Landing on You. And all of them have one thing in common: They made me bawl my eyes out.
So, it got me wondering. Why are K-Dramas so popular? I mean, of course, the cast’s good looks definitely help (hello, Gong Yoo!). Then, there’s also the fact that a typical drama would wrap up its storyline within one season—it’s like one very long movie. Easy, you finish and then move on (or maybe think about it for weeks…).
Lastly, I think it’s also because most dramas use tropes found in “guilty pleasures”, such as romance novels and fan fiction. You know, the things that make you feel all fuzzy inside like Destined Soulmates, Found Family and Fake-Out Make-Outs. Like honestly, Crash Landing on You has you head over heels with a North Korean soldier.
Of course, K-Dramas face their fair share of criticism as well. While improvements have been made to how storylines and characters are written, we have to recognise that some of the shows we have enjoyed feature abusive lead male characters or showcase toxic relationships.
As with any form of entertainment, it’s always good to remember to separate reality from what we see on screen. Creators too, need to remember that they have the power to influence their audience.