The Great Debate: To binge watch or simulcast

deep-thought

What is my place in the universe? Is there a God? What is the purpose of life? Should I binge watch previously-aired Korean dramas, or watch new episodes airing now?

These are the universal questions that humanity has struggled with since the beginning of time (or the beginning of DramaFever, depending).

I will attempt to answer one of them today.

First, for the uninitiated (or for people who don’t schedule their entire lives around Kdramas — yet), to binge watch a Kdrama means to eat, sleep and breathe the show, devouring episodes like a great beast who’s hunger can never be satiated. To simulcast a show means you watch episodes that are currently airing in Korea. Meaning you have to wait a week. Seven days. 168 hours. 604,800 seconds. It’s an ETERNITY. But there is a thrill in feeling some sort of connection with Korea itself by getting excited about shows at the same time as everyone else around the world.

TO BINGE WATCH OR NOT TO BINGE WATCH?

My first Korean drama was a binge watch experience. I wonder if I would’ve gotten as sucked in if I hadn’t been able to do this because — and this is true for all shows, Korean or otherwise — sometimes when you have time to think about what you’re watching … it gets dumber. But when you’re sucking up shows like a junkie who just got paid, there’s not a lot of time for reflection. The strength of Korean dramas is in their emotions. They really get you to care about the characters, even the bad ones.

1f1pywThe problem arises if you have time to sit back and wonder to yourself (or maybe even Google) how amnesia works. This takes you out of the story and into the land of logic. And no one wants to take that trip, amiright? But by the time you finish a binge watch, you don’t even CARE how amnesia works because that KISS in episode 13 was epic and that’s all that really matters. Kisses. Not medical research.

However. And this is a big however. HOWEVER. Who among us has self-control? An iron will to walk away when chocolate abs are wet with shower water? The ability to say, “I’m sorry, Ji Chang Wook, I cannot watch you fight for your life  in a perfectly-ripped black tee shirt because my children haven’t been fed yet today”? I do not. It was Empress Ki, a sprawling 50 episode epic that really drove the point home. I’d quit showering. Eating. Looking at my children. I was watching that show like it was my full time job and my poor kids were like, “Do you love Korean dramas more than us?” And I was like, “Maybe…” 1f1qh0

When I came out of the Empress Ki coma, I wasn’t proud of myself. I didn’t recognize my baggy-eyed, zombified reflection in the mirror. I thought to myself, “There must be a better way.” That’s when I decided to try simulcasting. At least then, I would be forced to come out of my Korean coma while I waited for new episodes.

SIMULCAST? OR SIMUL-PASS?

I was watching six shows live last month. With two episodes a week per show, that was 12 shows a week. 12 hours. This was me cutting way back. The pros: getting to geek out over it on Facebook with my Kdrama sisters, rehashing the episodes we’d just watched; getting excited for the next one.  Every day, there was at least one show I could watch. And it really limited me to two hours of Kdrama watching a day, which my hungry, attention-starved children appreciated.

But there was a big con I began to notice. After the emotional rush of the first few episodes, when I’d get to that halfway point (you know, the saggy  middle?), I’d start to analyze things. I’d start to wonder if rich, gorgeous chaebols were really that plentiful in Korea. I’d start to question how Koreans could catch amnesia like I catch a cold. I’d start to feel like every lead female in the six shows I was watching had become interchangeable. And then the real shock came: I wasn’t sure I cared. The emotional high I got from binge watching was there, but in much smaller spurts. It didn’t give me the fix I needed. I was spread too thin, caring about too many people. And because I cared about too many people, I didn’t care about anyone.

1f1qvm

For example: Lucky Romance got stupid. By the end, I was forcing myself to watch the finale. Yet I really believe if I’d binge-watched, I would’ve loved it. When Shim Bo Nui mercilessly broke Je Soo Ho’s heart “for his own good”, I had to wait a &*%!ing week for her to fix it. Except she didn’t. So I had to wait another %*&!ing week and she STILL DIDN’T. Three weeks I waited and by then, I was so frustrated, I hated her, I hated him, I hated my husband, I kicked a cat. (Okay, I’m exaggerating, but still). The big part of my frustration was the wait. Absent that, I think I might’ve
been mildly annoyed as I clicked to the next episode but I wouldn’t have had time to stew.

CONCLUSION

In the end, I’m still not sure which is better. I know I get more emotionally invested and less annoyed by weak plots when I can binge-watch. But I love the excitement and community you get with simulcasting. In 1f21qethe end, I decided to try and find a happy balance. I’m simulcasting two shows right now, and binge-watching one. I’m also trying to remember that there is a life outside my TV screen. Mostly because I heard if you stare at a TV screen for 12 or more hours a day, you’ll go blind and I can imagine no horror greater than never being able to watch another Kdrama.

What was your first Kdrama? Do you prefer to binge watch or simulcast? Let me know in the comments!

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13 thoughts on “The Great Debate: To binge watch or simulcast

  1. My first kdrama was 49 Days. Thank goodness it was completed when I started, though I didn’t even know about live versus completed dramas then, because I ate that drama up. Still prefer to binge watch mainly because I got burned to many times by the latter half of the dramas I tried to simulcast. My drama watching time is to valuable to waste on a drama with a crappy ending that I’m still mad about (Endless Love, cough, cough) Sometimes I get sucked into live watching, but it’s very rare.

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  2. My first kdrama was Coffee Prince. I worked in a hospital and didn’t have much free time so I was “forced” to watch after work in the wee hours of the morning LOL The only drama that I have ever wanted to binge watch was Nirvana in Fire but it was way too long for that so I limited myself to three episodes at a time. LOL

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  3. I started binge watching but once I started blogging I switched to simulcast. The sense of community watching a show with others is satisfying. But on my own, I’ll still binge a show. It’s like having my cake and eating it too!

    Your opening section of this post was brilliant! It caught my attention and I thoroughly enjoyed and resonated with your logic.

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  4. For me I was an extreme binge watcher until I had gone through a good 2 year and hundreds of dramas. Then I started blogging (and had watched almost every well-known drama since 2000) and calmed down becoming a serial simulcaster. I still binge watch Chinese dramas occasionally. Especially when I get sick.

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  5. My first Kdrama was Brilliant Legacy. Since it was being broadcast locally I *had* to wait for the weekly episodes. And, then, I discovered someone had uploaded videos on YouTube . . . I’ve noticed that, like you, if I wait a week for episodes, I fall out of love with the show much more easily. The flaws become more apparent and I nit-pick more. However, I don’t have the time to binge-watch. Where’s a happy medium when you need one?

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  6. Since I watch a couple at a time I don’t remember the very first, Was it The Horse Doctor, or Dr. Jin? Maybe it was My Girlfriend is a Gumiho. I watched Faith early on and I was addicted, a die-hard binge watcher, a marathoner. Often five episodes a night and usually 3 of them are one series. I don’t start them unless I can plow through and never have to wait. I hate waiting, I start feeling detached from them. I like staying with the characters, seeing them through their angst, their fears, anger, amnesia and their mis-communications because no one asks the right questions, or speaks up in time to avoid all the stupid assumptions. I yell at the evil people and cry with the male second leads when the girl breaks his heart. …. I should stop now.

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  7. My first Kdrama was Princess Hours. My daughter was home from college and we watched it over Christmas break. Unfortunately, she’s a real crier so every time we got to a sad part (which she knew about because she’d seen it already), she’d leave the room. It wasn’t entirely a satisfactory experience. Faith and, yes, Boys over Flowers followed but it wasn’t until Flower Boy Ramen Shop that I really started pounding down the marathoned dramas. Today, I generally save up a few simulcasted episodes and then watch. Chinese historical dramas are also easy to do this because they have so many episodes!
    However, my most memorable drama experience so far was this year when I was watching the live stream of Scarlet Heart: Ryeo via a link for their mobile site. I cleared my 8-9 a.m. Monday and Tuesday morning slot, watch on my phone, go about my day and then watch it again on YouTube and finally, watch it with subs. Then, I’d find the different cut scenes. One day, I even watched a memorable Periscope from the Thai version that had a hand written “Stop chatting, you’re blocking the subs!” sign.
    I had to watch it in every format I could. I feel like I did a degree in Scarlet Heart: Ryeo. Now, I’m feeling a little empty – especially when Monday mornings come around and I have nothing to watch.
    I think what this all boils down to is can you wait for the subs or not. I’ve watched 3/4 of Love YunGe from the Desert, Naughty Princess and Su Ran Ran’s Husband Hunting Journey without subs because I just can’t wait anymore. I would have been happy to simulcast – if only they were subbed. While I joke about learning Korean to better understand dramas, I think I would benefit more from learning Mandarin!

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  8. my first kdrama was winter sonata (when i was 17.. how time flies!).. i was watching it on and off on tv, but couldnt catch the whole series because i was prepping for uni entry exam..so my mom bought me the boxset as my birthday present at year end.. i remembered the then new dvd player got burned because i was binge-watching the 20 episodes straight..

    then enter the uni years.. most of the time i would follow a completed series and rationed the episodes for my daily dosage, such that i can balance classes and watching kdo among other things.. but then the i’m sorry i love you fever came along, and i remembered most the members of korean drama community in my uni simulcasting the show.. and we’ll countdown for the subs to completed.. and i swear some of the male guys openly admit they cried rivers watching the series..

    for now, i prefer to wait until any new drama aired to 4-5 episodes before i start watching, and evaluate if i should continue or drop the series.. i found simul-casting is more exciting as ppl are in the hype and there’s active discussion for each episodes that help to point out things i might missed out or other people are echoing my hypothesis on what’s gonna happen.. and the excitement of knowing the slightest and smallest spoiler for the next week episodes..

    there are a few dramas that too ‘heavy’ for binge-watch the whole series in one seating, for example ‘i remember you’ and ‘signal’. for me, i can only binge-watch a few episodes and then i need sometime to digest the episodes before continuing..

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  9. I’m all for binge watching even if it’s just three episodes a day. A not-so-great episode during a binge-fest is forgivable, but if an episode disappoints after I waited an entire week to see it, that series is more likely to be removed from my watch list.

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  10. My first proper drama (that I watched from start to finish) was Princess Hours. I watched that on local TV because this was before online streaming. I couldn’t wait for the next episode but then again Princess Hours is one of the classics. Right now, I find a balance by waiting for shows to air till the 8th or 9th episode, and based on online reactions, decide if I want to watch it or not. Then I will binge watch till I’m updated then watch it live. For shows that sound very interesting to me and that I’m willing to risk my drama watching hours for, I start watching them live from the first ep.

    I decided to make my decision to watch or not from the 8th or 9th episode because of Yongpal. Haha, because it went downhill from the 9th episode. I know its a lame gauge but so far its worked for me!

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  11. My first kdrama was Full House back when I was just 8 years old. I was binge watching dramas since then until 2012. I started simulcasting during Master’s Sun and after that enjoyable experience, I realize now that there are more dramas that I simulcast than those that I binge watch. My only rule is that I should never simulcast dramas with 24 Episodes and up especially sageuk and cdramas. I prefer binge watching them.

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  12. My first K Drama was a long long time ago, Winter Sonata, like @usanotsuki. At the time, the internet was a mere infant and there were no avenues for live watching. I watched all my dramas then on CDs. I still prefer binges although sometimes I get impatient and start simulcasting. Simulcasting is great because there’s a whole community to fangerl with but I realised that the dramas I love and have re-watched, are mostly the dramas I binge-watched. So you’re right, I don’t get as high live watching, as when I binge.

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  13. Hello. Im in desperate need of finding this incredible drama i used to watch but never finished. Unfortunately i forgot the name of the drama since it was so long ago. Pls leave a comment if u recognize this drama! Pls! I have been lokking for at leats 5 weeks cuz I really want to watch it.

    Description: a group of girls are share one thing kn common. One boy all broke up with them. And so all 5 try to get revenge by getting togther at his very own house. But they find out that he ran away. The next day HIS TWIN came instead to live at his house. He has a mole under his lips but the girls couldnt trust him so the main character tries to get prove that the mole in fake & falls in love with him soon. Pls tell mw if u know this drama. It would mean a lot!!!!!!

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