Tuesday, February 21, 2012

WTF, drama?

Dear Kdrama Overlords,
Normally we get along just fine, you and me; you’re fun to be around and we have a good time together. What can I say? I like your style. But sometimes you really make me crazy with your fourth-dimensional tendencies and poor decision-making skills. Below are a few specific issues I’d like you to consider before our next meeting.

Autumn in My Heart
During the winter months I get at least two bloody noses a week, yet am neither overworked nor dying. Find a new plot device already!

Did your lead couple just have a cake-and-champagne celebration while sitting on the floor in a barn full of cows? Really? Have you ever seen a cow? Or, more importantly, smelled one? Unless Korean cows are traditionally diapered (and maybe even then), this scene was poorly conceived.

Autumn in My Heart: Love sans cows > Love with cows

Can You Hear My Heart?
Why did you hire Lee Hye Young, the single most beautiful ajumma in all of Korea, if you were just going to give her a tragic perm? She still looks like Grace Kelly’s Asian incarnation, no matter how you try to frump her up.

Coffee Prince
Can we please retire the phrase “charnel house,” at least in subs intended for an American audience? Outside of a certain class of horror movie, this is not a concept we Yankees are comfortable with.

Flower Boy Ramen Shop
Are people in Korea really smart enough to know off the top of their heads the cyclical years of the Chinese zodiac? I feel incredibly stupid, if so. I need a calculator to figure out how old I am these days.

Did that teacher just ask a student out to dinner? American teachers are discouraged from being alone with students, while Korean (drama) teachers are hitting on their students left and right. (See also the squeamish teacher/student relationship in Heartstrings.) Let’s try not to encourage icky abuses of power and influence, okay?

Is Korea really such a wild place that a gang war can happen in hospital’s lobby without anyone doing anything about it? Scary.

Also, Korean gangsters should really investigate the many and wondrous uses of guns. All this trying to stab people gets old.

Based on the vast majority of your dramas, a salmon has a better chance of survival after becoming a parent than the average Korean does. Do you not care that you’re probably driving an entire nation’s life insurance rates through the roof? Is it really all that difficult to write a character with living parents?

My Lovely Sam Soon
I guess this is my American prejudice showing through, but it seems to me that getting your bare feet all over your sheets is an excellent reason to wash them—not how you should wash them. And I'm convinced no American has hand washed jeans since the days of Billy the Kid. Are there no laundromats in Korea?

My Sweet Seoul
I've heard that people in Asian cultures are more into saving money than Westerners, but could it really be possible that two this shows single-girls-in-the-city are able to casually quit their jobs without batting an eyelash about how they'll pay the rent next month? Sad but true: I had to wait for my income tax return just to fit a used copy of Coffee Prince in the old budget.

Secret Garden
Kim Joo Won’s super-modern house has no paved driveway, which means he’s always driving and parking on green grass. Yet none of that grass ever seems to die. How? And more importantly—Why, if not specifically to annoy me? (Ultimately the mystery of the long-lived lawn is probably the most compelling thing about this show. So I guess it's a point in your column after all.)

No ruts in Secret Garden! (Other than the ones in the plot, anyway.)

Sungkyunkwan Scandal
Remind me again how Kim Yoon Hee handles visits from Aunt Flow while pretending to be a boy, sharing a room with two guys, and wearing a snow-white jumpsuit? I know this is a fusion sageuk and all, but at least show her furtively palming some Joseon-brand tampons.

No matter how clever you are, I know why you didn’t use the book’s original ending: If Yoon Hee was going to work in the King’s library as a man for the rest of her life, your drama couldn’t have a sexy ending. Getting knocked up would blow her cover pretty quickly. (I’ll forgive you this time, though, because I also approve of sexy endings.)


In light of these serious transgressions against good sense, I have this to say: Just because you’re practically perfect in every way is no excuse for slacking off. You’re Overlords, for the love of God—get your head in the game!



  1. Lolll I haven't seen most of the dramas on this list, but I still enjoyed this post.

    RE: lack of guns. I believe South Korea has a pretty strict gun control policy, so that may be why there's so few guns in dramas--they want to enforce that image.

    Yes, I do not understand why they insist on giving gorgeous actresses horrendous haircuts and terrible clothes and go "Oh look she's so plain and unattractive!". If it's an attempt to make the normal viewer feel better about themselves, it's not working.

    Other pet peeves: how often characters fail to look both sides before crossing a busy street. And how drama heroes really like to make crazy u-turns (someone has posited that this is to show off the cornering abilities of the cars).

    1. It seems that South Korea is squeamish about violence of any any sort (not that that's a bad thing)—even the knives in Lovers are sometimes blurred out.

      American culture also loves to pretend beautiful girls are ugly, but instead of trying to actually *make* them ugly, we slap some glasses and a flannel shirt on them and call it a day. I don't think I'm going to be able to bear watching that Wild Love show—I can't even look at its stills without shuddering at the sight of the heroine's hair.

      And I totally agree about these pet peeves, and would add unnecessary car sound effects to the list. If you're driving 10 miles an hour in a parking garage, I don't need to hear your tires screaming as you turn a corner. They're always cutting people off by changing lanes directly in front of them, too. Another reason to marry Gong Yoo: he can drive me around after I move to Seoul ;)

    2. You forgot to mention how in many gender bending dramas (You're Beautiful, I'm looking at you) the female that's pretending to be a boy doesn't make the slightest attempt to act like a boy. And while everyone is supposedly believing that she is a boy they treat her as a girl. It makes me scratch my head.

      Also, why do all the heroines that are supposed to be sweet and naive have to be complete and utter morons. What!?! Because they're naive in the beginning that means they can't learn from what happens to them over the course of the drama? Unfortunately, You're Beautiful suffers from this flaw as well.

      How about the superfluous use of CPR? And horribly incorrect CPR, no less. Every time someone faints (or twists an ankle) they apparently need CPR. It's odd. And keeping with this theme, why do people need to go to the hospital every time they sneeze? And how come every time someone gets wet they come down with a dangerously high fever that freaks everyone out? I'm curious about these things. It seems like they happen in just about every drama I watch.

      Speaking of bad haircuts, please watch Que Sera Sera. The main lead's haircut actually makes her looks a bit insane. I would cross the street if she were walking my way.

      And can Koreans possibly drink so much? Can you say Cirrhosis of the liver? Though if I had an assortment of hotties that were just waiting to give me a piggyback ride home every time I overindulged, I might develop a drinking problem too. Though I would try not to pee on them :)(see My Lovely SamSoon).

    3. I agree with all your points. I chalk the constant need to go to the hospital up to not eating enough meat, based on the drooling of characters whenever it's on screen ;) And boozing is a weirdly overused plot device, just like bloody noses—it lets the characters depend on each other and behave in ways they normally wouldn't.

      I actually want to watch Que Sera Sera, but am now afraid =X A bad haircut can really ruin a drama for me, as shallow as that sounds.

  2. Oh man, that was funny! Secret Garden's lawn was a very specific pet peeve.

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