One of the factors that has increased foreign interest in South Korea is the growing popularity of K-dramas. There are two primary types of K-dramas: historical, mainly set in the ancient kingdoms of Korea; or modern. They usually consist of a single season ranging from 16 to 21 episodes lasting about an hour and 25 minutes. Because a lot of K-dramas follow this format, it is easily recognized and distinguishable.
Whether you are a fan of Korean TV series or you still haven’t been introduced to this world, don’t miss this article in which we list some curiosities about K-dramas.
The protagonists of the K-dramas
Being a “drama”, each series is normally focused on the love story between the two protagonists. In the most classic dramas, the female protagonist is always poor and kind, while the male protagonist is rich and handsome but shy and rough in nature. Near the end, it is obvious that the two protagonists will naturally fall in love with each other.
If there are also second suitors (second male lead), they too will almost always embody the same model. The second male suitor is usually very kind, charming and will give a lot of attention to the female protagonist, helping her in time of need. However, she will only ever see him as a friend and will ultimately choose the protagonist, even if he treats her badly.
On the other hand, the female protagonist’s rival is as beautiful as she is and contrary to her beautiful looks, she is unpleasant and dishonest as she is determined to play dirty in achieving her goals, while maintaining an innocent facade. However, her demeanor is exposed near the end of the show.
Recurring elements in the plot
Another curiosity about K-drams is that often the protagonists of the drama have a difficult childhood and/or have problems with their parents. This is partly a reflection of the rigidity of Korean society. Of course, this does not mean that all Koreans have problems with their parents, but it is certainly not uncommon. Furthermore, the parents of the rich protagonist will always object to the relationship between the two, usually because they already have a better candidate in mind for their child. To get rid of the female protagonist, they often offer her money and ask her to leave—in the end she almost always refuses the offer.
If the drama looks like it’s reaching a happy ending, don’t expect it to be a ‘happily ever after’, as the unexpected is always lurking. It usually involves two things: incurable cancer or memory loss. The incurable cancer (from which the protagonist will still somehow miraculously be healed) will put a strain on the relationship between the two. Meanwhile, the amnesia will prevent one of the two from remembering having ever met the other or having a relationship that goes beyond mere acquaintance.
Modern dramas are usually set in Seoul, which is a big metropolis. However, if the protagonists argue with or see another person, no matter how big the city is, the two will still end up meeting by chance, which results in solving all the misunderstandings.
Another very strange situation that occurs in most dramas is when the protagonists fall asleep deeply in the most unusual positions. Usually, the female protagonist falls asleep, and even when she is simply sleeping with her head resting on one hand, she does not wake up when the male protagonist moves her to a more comfortable place or tries to cover her.
As previously said, most of the time the female protagonist is very poor. However, this will not prevent her from having the newest mobile phone out there in the market – even if it’s impossible to understand how she could afford it given her situation!
A final curiosity about K-dramas
Our last k-drama curiosity concerns kisses. They are always light kisses, but nevertheless, they last several minutes. At the same time, they are motionless and are always in the same position. Drama must in fact maintain a certain amount of modesty – so that’s why you will never see a kiss that resembles reality.
The miniseries Dramaworld, produced by Viki and also present on Netflix, makes a parody of K-drama by highlighting all of these elements. We also must remember that although most of the K-dramas follow these patterns, there are also series that deviate from these models. Especially recently, there are a lot of examples such as Crash Landing on You, which is about a rich woman who ends up in North Korea by mistake; and Itaewon Class, which is about a boy who, starting from a small pub in the center of Seoul, manages to break through and achieve his goals.
We hope you enjoyed this article on some of the curiosities about K-dramas. For more information about Korea and Korean, follow the Go! Go! Hanguk blog and please do not hesitate to contact us to find out how you can live & study in Korea.