A Newbie’s Journey Into Kdramas

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Everyone has their story—the drama that drew them into the addictive world of Korean entertainment. For many, it was the soap-opera-like storytelling of Boys over Flowers. For me, it was the peerless Goblin, which told the story of this half-man, half-god, who could be as bashful as a schoolboy and absolutely silly, and yet he commanded the elements with 900 years of authority and traded insults fearlessly with an agent of Death. How could I not be drawn in? Little did I know that it would be impossible to leave.

So where does one go when entering the world of kdramas? How do you know what to watch next? And how do you avoid getting sucked into kpop? (Short answer: You don’t. Roll with it, my friend.)

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It seems to me there are a few way to approach the “What do I watch next?” question. I entered the kdrama world all on my own about six months ago (late January of 2017), so I only had myself and a few brief internet searches to guide me. This was a feasible approach—I ended up watching Descendants of the Sun, Coffee Prince, and Wild Romance and not hating them—but it made choosing a decent kdrama a crapshoot. I chose Descendants of the Sun because it was written by the same talented person who penned Goblin. I chose Wild Romance because I loved watching Lee Dong Wook as the Reaper and was curious to see how he would do in a less mythical role. (In my opinion, he killed it, but the rest of the drama was lackluster.) Coffee Prince was spectacular and painful and being completely uneducated in Korean culture, a little hard to watch at times (I had no idea what skinship was). But Gong Yoo was an excellent lead and very different from the Goblin, and I enjoyed seeing a bit more of his range.

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One of the best things I did, however, was broadcast my newfound love of kdramas to my Facebook friends. I found myself a drama-watching partner who loves research as much as I do, and between the two of us, we’ve watched some decent series—Cinderella and Four Knights, Strong Woman Dong Bo Soon (Park Hyung Sik FTW!), To the Beautiful You (except for that phenomenally weak ending), Moonlovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (who knew having my heart torn to shreds could still be a good experience?!)—and some weaker series that had great moments (Hwarang, I am STARING at you). But we’re both newbies and there’s only so much we can do on our own.

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The answer is simple and had been staring me in the face for a LONG time: Find more experienced kdrama watchers! Get recommendations! And that is what I did. Turns out that Korean entertainment does not exist in a vacuum. There are blogs and websites and Facebook pages galore! I’ve found ones that work for me (you’re reading one of them!) and you can find ones that work for you. Embrace them, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. There is a LOT to be learned about Korean culture through the consumption of Korean entertainment, and it’s a worthwhile endeavor. In fact, it led me to some outside research to understand things that seemed strange at first. For starters, DramaFever has your back with an article about 101 Korean Pop Culture Words.

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I’ll tell you what I wish someone had told me: “Good luck on this new journey, kdrama newbie! You’re in for a ton of fun. And embrace the kpop—it’s fantastic.”

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(This post was written while I listened to SHINee, BTS, VIXX, and KSuke & Amber’s Breathe Again. All highly recommended, and not just by me. 😀)

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20 thoughts on “A Newbie’s Journey Into Kdramas

  1. Welcome to the rabbit hole! You are going to have to watch My Love From Another Star, Moon Embracing the Sun, School 2013, and Healer next. This will give you a nice introduction to a nice variety of genres. So happy to be fangirl blogging with you!

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  2. Ooooh, ooooh my friend! A fun time will be had by all now that you’re here! I started with some pretty light weight shows like Gong and My Princess but I’ve found that the deeper, historical shows to be my favorites right now. When you want to dive deeper – try King’s Daughter, Soo Baek Hyang or Empress Ki for a historical drama or Cunning Single Lady or Cheese in the Trap for nice modern dramas. Enjoy!

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    • As much as it simultaneously *killed* me, I loved Scarlet Heart, and the historical parts of Goblin, too. And Hwarang. So I will add those historical shows (I know there’s a term for them–I’ll learn it eventually) to my list. Thanks for the recommendations!

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  3. Introverted Boss (aka My Shy Boss).
    1% of Something.
    Oh My Venus.

    But mostly Introverted Boss ♡♡♡♡♡

    Welcome to the rabbit hole! And I’ve held fast against the kpop… kind of… maybe listened to a few songs….

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    • I don’t know how you’ve held out against the kpop this long! And I have watched My Shy Boss — that was one TWISTY show. The other two are on my list! Oh, I wish I had more hours in my day.

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  4. What a fun start to your KDrama blogging, thanks for sharing! Based on the Dramas you’ve raved about, I’m only going to recommend three – Fated To Love You (Korean, NOT Taiwanese) My Only Love Song, and Queen In Hyun’s Man. I think you might enjoy checking them out. Oh, and fwiw: “How do you avoid getting sucked into kpop?” Easy, for some of us. Four years, 174 completed KDramas (30 dropped) and the only K-pop act I follow is Mamamoo.😀

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  5. “And how do you avoid getting sucked into kpop?” PFFT, good luck with that!! BTS, Seventeen, EXO, in that order. You’re welcome.

    Watch Weighlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo. It’s my favorite drama I’ve recapped in over three years. So adorable, and you get to know ahead of time that the OTP is now dating in real life!

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    • I just started Weightlifting Fairy last night! I’m likin’ it, especially seeing Lee Sung Kyung in a role so wildly different from her crazy sister role in Cheese in the Trap.

      And BTS and EXO are on my playlist. 😀 My very, very long playlist. I’ll look into Seventeen. Thanks for the rec!

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  6. I can’t even recall what drama got me into K-Drama’s as it was not Boys Over Flowers even though it was the first one that I watched (and guiltily never finished). But gosh, this is so exciting! I started really getting into dramas about 2 years ago during Christmas time while watching Reply 1994. You should totally watch the Reply Series if you haven’t if you’re into dramas about life, love, families, and friends. Age of Youth is really good as well, it’s one of my favorites!

    For historical dramas, K-Dramas I’ve really liked were Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People. Though I did enjoy Scarlet Heart Ryeo to some extent, I was not entirely fond of it, and what saved it for me was the amazing main lead. But there’s this Chinese Historical Drama you should totally check out when you get the chance, if you’re into romance, it blows everything else away. It’s called “The Princess Weiyoung”.

    Welcome to the never ending K-Drama world! ☺️

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  7. Great read!

    I am a newbie myself and I found myself smiling while reading this. I can relate very mucccchhh 🙂

    I will start writing blog too 🙂

    Welcome to Kdrama land – you can enter but you can never leave

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  8. As a season veteran of several years, I first came across K-Drama’s randomly when I was browsing through Netflix looking for a Bollywood movie to watch of all things. I stumbled across That Winter, the Wind Blows. Though I was not a huge fan of that particular drama it did spawn a love for Asian drama’s and have started my own blog sharing and recommending drama’s. It’s fairly new, but i update pretty regularly so if you are looking for suggestions, come check it out.

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