Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Changing times

Answer Me 1997: Hey, look! it’s the good old days.

As of this month, I’ve been watching Korean drama for three years. I was among the first wave of Americans that Netflix streaming exposed to kdrama, and a few months later I was part of a group of English-language drama blogs that were all established at about the same time. Although it’s not that long in the grand scheme of things, it feels like the dramaweb has changed a lot since 2011.

When I first started watching, the go-to sites were Drama Crazy and My Soju, both of which have long since disappeared. They were never quite legal, but their offerings were incredibly encyclopedic—they made it easy to watch older, less popular shows that can be difficult to find today. Of course, you had to wade through never-ending pop-ups and watch slews of incredibly annoying commercials, but that always seemed like a small price to pay.

Legitimate sources of streaming drama have become increasingly available since 2011, although they often lead back to the same source: Dramafever, which struck up deals with both Hulu and Netflix to air programming it had subbed. Viki had been around for several years by the time I found it, but its limited availability in app format made it easier to overlook than the ever-present Dramafever. Another player in the streaming world was Crunchyroll, although it hadn’t updated its library of dramas for years. The fact that Crunchyroll is back today with a whole new service at Kdrama.com seems like proof that Korean drama is still a growth industry.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Navel gazing and sweeping generalizations: Watching drama as an American

Heirs: No hot guy has ever gazed adoringly at me from a convenience store’s eat-in counter,
because here convenience stores don’t have eat-in counters. (That’s why, right?) 

Someone I follow on Tumblr was recently asked an interesting question: “As a western person, how does it feel watching Kdramas? I’m Asian so I like them because they resemble my life more than western dramas.”

As a fairly average American, I can say the exact opposite is true. When I first started watching Korean dramas, it was like the moment in the Wizard of Oz when the world turns to technicolor. I’ve spent most of my life immersed in pop culture, but here was something totally new and different. As a form of entertainment, it was like nothing I’d ever seen before, or even imagined might exist. But what fascinated me most about it—and what eventually inspired me to start this blog—was how very different Kdrama life was from my own.

Of course, I know a country’s television shows aren’t necessarily representative of life within its borders. (My own lack of granite countertops, a vampire boyfriend, and a job in a glamour industry are exhibits A, B, and C.) But they do have something to say about how people in a particular place and time interact with the world around them, and how they expect that world to interact with them.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What, no post?

For the first time in two and a half years, I wasn’t able to wrap up a post for this week. (Drat you, real life!) Outside Seoul will be back with a new post next Tuesday.