Thursday, August 9, 2012

News Flash: Kdrama Is Occasionally in the News!

As an American fan of Korean dramas, I sometimes feel as if I have a secret window into a magical kingdom that’s every bit as divorced from the reality of my day-to-day life as Oz or Narnia: For most people I know, Korea is just as foreign and inconceivable as any fictional land you can imagine. My friends and family know that I spend an inordinate amount of time watching Korean television, but they don’t understand why I bother or that there are lots of other Americans who do the very same thing.

And yet, every once in a while I run into some hint of the Never Never Land that is Kdrama in my everyday life as an American. This happened twice recently, so I thought I’d share.

Entertainment Weekly
As a lover of all things pop culture, I’ve subscribed to this magazine for more than a decade. When I finally got to the end of last week’s issue, I discovered a little section headed “Global Hits You Can Watch at Home.” Naturally, my first response was to look for Kdrama—and there it was.

“South Korea (Netflix)
Boys over Flowers
Don’t be fooled by the cutesy title. This fish-out-of-water saga about a working-class girl in a love-hate relationship with a rich bad boy at her cliquey private school has all the catty elitism of Gossip Girl mixed with the heated back-and-forth banter of 10 Things I Hate About You.”

This feels a little bit like how Death works in the Final Destination movies—if it skips you once, it always comes back for you later. If I wasn’t already unhealthily fixated on Korean drama, this little calling card would have been the catalyst.

It also struck me as bizarre to read such positive things about BoF. Even though it’s my beloved V-card Kdrama, I’ve been busily apologizing (even to myself) for liking it since day one. I think I may have to devote some time to a first anniversary viewing, to see if it holds up now that I’m better informed about what Korean drama has to offer.

National Public Radio
Much to my surprise (and the surprise of everyone I know), I love listening to NPR’s financial coverage. And was I ever shocked a few weeks ago to hear a Marketplace World segment that discussed Dramafever, every American’s favorite source for Kdrama. It focused on startups that don’t want to become publicly traded companies, but also included a good deal of information about the inner workings of Dramafever. (My greatest fear? That the influx of new funding they’re receiving will inspire them to overreach, thereby causing the company to shut down and leaving me with no easy, cheap source for streaming drama.)

Here’s the link: All the Cool Kids Don’t Want to Go Public

Random Internet Find
From an interview with Daniel Henney in support of his new movie, Shanghai Calling:

Interviewer: You know, that’s indicative of a lot of Asian movies, where they have someone who’s speaking English or a Westerner—not just in Korea, but I grew up watching Hong Kong movies and sometimes I would just cringe at the dialogue.

Daniel Henney: Oh man, it’s terrible.  I used to get scripts and I would just [ask], “Are you serious, you want me to say this?”  This is…no.  I would stay up all night changing the lines.  But I don’t know, those characters, those experiences have helped me so much and I appreciate what I have so much more now because of that.

[Amanda: Daniel, you should have tried a bit harder with your revisions to the dialogue—although I guess some things are beyond the help of even the best editor. (Spring Waltz, I’m talking about you.)]


  1. Well, BOF is one of Korea's most famous and most popular dramas, you're just hanging out with the wrong crowd lol, because I have seen tons of love for BOF from other people on the internet. It is as twisted as an American teen soap opera like Gossip Girl (or even my beloved OC, God I was SO addicted to that show in high school, though they should have done it Korean style and stopped it after so many episodes because after season 2 it tanked lol), so it probably would be a good gateway kdrama for a lot of Americans.

    Hahaha that's so funny that Daniel Henney said that, because he really has had some terrible lines :P

    1. Yes, I'm clearly hanging out with the wrong crowd--the one for people too smart to love BoF ;) I think Boys over Flowers really is good foreigner bait, and that it was a stroke of genius to make it available streaming on Netflix. Everywhere I go, people are talking about that being their introduction to Kdrama. (Although Netflix probably wishes I'd never watched it: I've since cut my service way, way back.)

      I loved the OC, too--I'm so a Seth Cohen girl. Too bad that it starting sucking so quickly...

    2. I still maintain that the first season of The OC was perfect.

  2. I also started my Kdrama season with a self-apology (Lie to Me - how appropriate) telling myself over and over that's this is only for educational purposes, to know and understand this ridiculous obsession that some people (certainly not me) have about Asian culture. Now I'm a Kdrama apologist (in the philosophical sense). Hah. And actually, I'm enjoying Playful Kiss. It's just the right amount of silliness filled in with the pretty. Although, if somebody threw away my diner (twice!) and I had only taken one bite, I wouldn't sit there and pout prettily, I'd get mad!

    Dear DramaFever: Please don't overreach and leave me stranded. I've already been dissed by Netflix, I don't think I'll be able to to handle this kind of rejection twice! (I'll probably listen to the radio program sometime today - I have a sense of awe over DF. I also wish I could understand Korean and be a subber. It seems like such a noble cause...)

    1. If it's possible to have a crush on a company, I have a crush on Dramafever. So fast! So reliable! So encyclopedic! I may not be able to sub for them, but I half want to move to NYC to fetch them coffee. Imagine sitting around that office, where it's their actual profession to discuss Kdramas. They must have saved the nation in their past lives ;)

      And just like both of you, I enjoyed Playful Kiss and Lie to Me. I think they're both victims of the Dramabeans effect--public opinion turned against them early on, and even though they're cute, reasonably well-done shows, they've got reputations for being terrible. But then again, I wonder if I'd think that about Big if I hadn't watched it while it was still airing.

  3. Oh I still will stick to my guns and say that I really enjoyed Lie to Me, I don't think it was that bad at all. I also really liked Playful Kiss, which is sort of unusual for me to really like a teeny bopper melodrama like that but for whatever reason I like Mary Stayed Out All Night, Playful Kiss, and Goong, which are all uncharacteristic of my normal taste in dramas. But sometimes you just like a drama and you can't really explain why. I think I just like that actor or something, his blonde hair looked ridiculous in BOF, but he was still so darn lovable But I guess the ridiculousness of Joon Pyo's perfectly curling iron curled hair out shined everybody else's lol). What the heck happened to the main actress from BOF anyway? I've only seen her in one other drama, The Musical, and boy what bomb that was. I thought I would come across her in more dramas seeing as how she was in one of kdrama's greatest megahits of all time.

    I use dramafever sometimes, but I mostly use hulu because I can use the app through my dvd player and watch it on my T.V. without having to hook my computer up to it. That way I can watch dramas on the T.V. and look at people's blogs about dramas on the computer at the same time. I may have a little bit of a problem....

    1. Ah, but BoF's female lead wasn't why anyone watched the show. It was all about the F4, with Jan Di only serving as a Mary Sue outlet for the viewers at home. That actress was also in a show about airline pilots this spring, which was supposedly as bad as the Musical. That's part of her problem, I think--the successful cast members have followed up their work in BoF with other big shows. Our boy Ji Hoo is filming something now that looks like a City Hunter copycat (although maybe it will actually be good.)

      Hulu is the one major Internet service I can't get with my Google TV set top box. I'm even thinking of getting a Roku, too, just because it carries Hulu. Now that I don't bother with cable anymore, I sometimes have an itch for American TV I can't scratch--like Shark Week, which I won't be watching for the first time since it started airing when I was a kid.

    2. I finally have a ginormous new TV in my front room!! Our old TV room is a little bitty bedroom turned into a den, and the front room is mostly occupied by a 7 ft. grand piano, so the new TV placement has to be rearranged everytime my husband gives a piano lesson. Right now it's perched a little precariously on a dining room chair, but in the meantime, I can watch Playful Kiss on the Big screen! *Squeal*

      Incidentally, have any of you ever checked out You can't watch dramas on there, and it's basically an excuse to rate everything you've scene and write reviews for dramas and movies, even episode reviews, and of course see what other people rate/write. However, the best feature it offers are "Drama Statistics"

      Currently Watching (3)
      Completed (39)
      Dropped (6)
      On Hold (1)
      Plan to Watch (29)

      The sad thing is, 34 days doesn't really seem all that long to me? I think I have a problem..

    3. Hey that's a cool feature!! I will definitley have to go check that out. Have fun watching Playful Kiss on the big screen, you get to see our hottie up close and personal lol.

      I actually watch a few American shows. I watched Glee before it ended and I love New Girl. I also unfortunately still watch Secret Life of an American teenager, which is along the the same lines as BOFs teen craziness, but with worse acting and an even more ridiculous plot, but for some reason I cannot seem to stop watching it, I think I just want to see it through to the end.

    4. Hooray about the new TV, Sara! I swear the quality of the program increases 5% for every inch bigger the screen is. This is why whenever my dad and stepmom travel, I volunteer to "dog sit" for them. (This, of course, is code for sitting around watching dramas on their 55 inch flat screen. Gong Yoo in their living room at almost life size...the mind boggles.)

      I also have an account at MyDramalist, where I have a list of dramas I want to watch but aren't available on Dramafever yet. Even just with those shows and nothing I've actually seen, I'm at like 30 days worth of dramas. The Internet is mankind's grandest invention, as far as I'm concerned.

    5. Also, I know any number of people who are also obsessed with Secret Life. I haven't seen it, but it strikes me as amusing that shows on Korean cable networks seem to have bigger budgets and better actors than American ones. I used to watch Drop Dead Diva, which was lots of fun, but doesn't compare to the cracktacular appeal of Kdrama, as far as I'm concerned. So it's all Seoul for me, at least until I get so sick of it that I swear it off forever ;)

  4. Ah Daniel Henny, you're so pretty, but sometimes you overestimate your own talents...

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