Kdrama: Is the Shine Starting to Wane?

So, barely fifteen months into my blogging adventure, I’m already struggling to make a once a month post. It used to be an ambitious once a week routine. Notwithstanding, the dwindling number of dramas I’m watching these days makes it difficult to find something fresh to write about.

2016 marks the sixth year I’ve watched kdramas. Compared to many other kdrama bloggers, six years is nothing. Many of my fellow bloggers have been at it for many more years with hundreds of dramas under their belt. And so are their blogs. On the same note, many personal blogs have also disappeared during this six year stretch. Sad to see since some of these bloggers are really good at it. But unfortunately, such is life and people move on.

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Quoting a seasoned, delightful drama blogger whom I follow, Timescout recently commented on one of my posts, “many in the community have become disillusioned, become more selective, tropes start to annoy them and they’ve become grumpy curmedgeon.” Her humourous but blunt takes on dramas in general is what makes me read her blog even though these days kdramas seem to have little staying power on her very selective list. 

Gotta agree with her as I may be moving a smidgen towards the end of that penultimate scale myself. As days pass I don’t chase after these dramas as much as before. I used to literally look up the A-Z drama list, read the blurps and wasted entire weekends drama watching.

Aside from my recent impromptu crush on SJS and subsequent barrage of his dramas and movies, I haven’t felt the urge to scour Soompi or Dramabeans for what’s the latest and hottest news out there. Even some of the highly recommended ones by people I trust stay on the ever growing watchlist, only to be struck out even before I start episode one.

I guess it is only natural as one’s taste matures over time, the law of diminishing returns ultimately kicks it. Even close friends and family that discovered the awesomeness of korean dramas years before I did have mostly now moved on to other greener pastimes. 

The good news is I’m not bored with kdramas (not yet) and as far as tropes that annoy me, truthfully speaking, that haven’t changed much. Tropes that annoyed me in the beginning still annoy me today, and to date I haven’t added too many annoying tropes to my list.

What has become a growing deciding factor for me is the actor/actress. I tend to have long memories on bad performances. After eighty plus kdramas, I have developed biases and my brain gets automatically turned off by certain actors or actresses. Not fair, one might say since these poor guys/gals may be the recipient of bad writing, bad direction or bad production. Maybe, but good acting can often times camouflage bad writing. Facial expressions, realistic acting and chemistry, these are memorable. Some actors or actresses seem to ooze chemistry with whomever they are paired with, making their performances unforgettable.

It’s almost better if these actors/actresses fly under the radar since I’d have likely forgotten about them and if they show up later in another show, I’d have given their shows a fair glance.

Therefore since my SJS binge, I went three weeks without picking up another drama until I came across a review on Page Turner that caught my interest. Just like that, I finished the short three episodes coming of age, parent-child relationship story in one sitting.

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Simple, yet powerful, Page Turner restores my love for kdrama all over again. All three MC played their parts beautifully. I’m a sucker for stories about chasing your dreams and overcoming parental expectations. Not only do we see growth with these kids, the parents also learned life lessons and had to come to terms with their roles in the lives of their children. White lies, well-meaning deeds, lofty expectations hurt more than you know.

In one scene, Yoo Seul said to her mother.

“Since I lived the life you chose for me, I can’t help but blame you every time I regret that choice. Its my life. I shouldn’t blame it on you. That’s why from now on I’ll make my own choices and blame them on myself. I’m doing this because I don’t want to hate you.”

As a mother, that last bit struck me the most. “I don’t want to hate you.” When that happens, the relationship is over and beyond repair.

I highly recommend this show. It’s neither dark nor melodramatic. It’s actually quite funny in parts. Overall, it’s very lovely and grounded. I would have rated it 10 but settled for 9.5, mindful of a few minor flaws in the realistic department that tipped the scale for me. Well-created characters, the show could have easily evolved into 16 episodes but then again, if it did, it might have spoiled the effect it had on me. It did just enough to hint at something more leaving me longing for ‘what if’ but at the same time gave me enough closure to leave it behind. 

So, to sum it up, no, kdrama is not dead to me. I still love them but the palate is more discerning or dare I say, more sophisticated?

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23 thoughts on “Kdrama: Is the Shine Starting to Wane?

    • Hi Junny! It’s definitely intriguing. Much better than Doctors, I would say though ratings say otherwise. I enjoy medical dramas so the myriad sub-plots are keeping me interested. Not to mention Jang Hyuk’s acting is impeccable. Some of the detective story is far fetched like a traffic cop turns detective etc. but overall an enjoyable medical thriller.

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      • Great to know you like Beautiful Mind so far, it does get better from episode 5 and has been really solid since. Jang Hyuk is doing a phenomenal job and it’s so wonderful to watch him. I know you’ve been busy in RL and hope you’re not getting too bogged down. Would love to read your thoughts on both Doctors and Beautiful Mind if you ever get a spare moment to blog – I didn’t bother with Doctors since I’m allergic to the leads, but well, the rest of Korea apparently loves it, haha.

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        • Will do! At this time I’m on the verge of dropping Doctors. Definitely not in a rush to catch up. Don’t mind the leads but the pairing’s not working for me in this show. The chemistry’s off and all the doctors seem too young to be residents / specialists etc. Maybe just me 😀

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  1. I forgot to tell you that I like your blog. It is hard finding blogs on kdrama that are active. Blogs are hard to manage, especially when someone has an important career. Keep up the marvelous work.

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    • Thanks for the compliment and support. Yes, its getting harder to keep the blog going as time goes on but your encouragement certainly gives me motivation to continue. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment ❤

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  2. Even in literature there really are no new novels. An exception is that garbage from John Ashcroft, but he mostly steals from other scholars. Everything has already been done. One of the few things a producer can do is to change a minute thing. There was talk of an American Boys Over Flowers. I knew that was going to be a failure in comparison to the Japanese and Korean versions. Actors and chemistry keep the dramas alive. I never followed whether it was produced or not. But I really could care less. Kdrama is not going anywhere, but I believe you and your friend are burnt out and need new hobbies.

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    • kdrama is still a staple among my entertainment choices. It’s here to stay for a while. No new hobbies so far but RL has taken on a change lately and that will leave less time for this indulgent for sure.

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  3. Heyyy! It’s been a while since we’ve last chatted 🙂

    I agree, when you’ve watched dramas for more than a couple of years, your palate definitely changes. I wouldn’t say my tastes have changes completely as I’m still drawn to similar things I was when I started out, but I’m certainly a lot more demanding when it comes to writing, characterizations and acting, and these factors count a lot whenever I have to decide to continue or drop a show.

    I recently ended my blogging hiatus and have slowly returned to regular drama-watching after almost a year of watching K-drama in only very small portions, I can say I did miss dramas a lot. I don’t think I’m ever going to consume dramas the way I did in the past, but I also don’t think I’ll be cutting them out of my life anytime soon. The love is still there, pulsating beneath the surface. Whenever life gets busy, I’ll focus more on other things, but quitting completely doesn’t seem like an option yet.

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    • Hi there! I checked out your blog a few times and was wondering if you took a break. Same here. I’m never going to totally disengage. In fact I just finished watching Assembly and loved it. On the same note I’m in no rush to start another one unlike the old days. Life takes on different priorities. Happy to see you back and will stop by to check out your blog!

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  4. I agree with you. I’ve gone through the same thing; it comes in waves. My taste has also changed. I go weeks at a time without watching quite often and increasingly. I haven’t seen Page Turner.

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  5. Well, it was bound to happen and happens to most drama fans, so you’re not alone 🙂 The more you watch, the less everything seems new, shiny and smart. Even acting methods become familiar and you can predict most plot twists. At least that was how it was for me. Maybe checking out genres you don’t usually go for, or dramas from other countries might help?

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    • Natural progression for sure. Surprisingly I haven’t had an urge to jump to jdramas or cdramas etc. May go back and check out BBC or ITV classics 🙂

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      • I enjoyed the 2004 version of North & South. Richard Armitage was hot. Sometimes hot men do the trick for me.

        I’m not into c-dramas either, they always strike me as somewhat affected and I get disconnected within five minutes.

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  6. Well, I was a grumpy, old gurmudgeon way before I saw my first kdrama, so I am actually rather surprised that it took me as long as it did before the lustre disappeared. XD

    I haven’t yet totally written off kdramas though, I’m just not as forgiving as I used to be, so it’s become harder to find those that ‘speak’ to me. It’s been a while since I truly loved a kdrama, which is a rather sad state to be in.

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    • Haha! Hopefullya kdrama comes along and surprise you one of these days. I know jdramas and cdramas are filling the void right now. The shine still going strong on those?

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      • I keep hoping that too but so far not much luck. 🙂

        I haven’t watched enough jdrama or cdrama to get to that ‘bleh’ state yet. When it comes to jdrama I’m rather partial to procedurals or slice-of-life and I’m ok with those tropes. Still pretty new to cdrama, though I know what to avoid already.

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  7. Aww, sorry to see some of your love has started to wane 😦 I’m only 3 years into drama watching, but I have seen 120 dramas which is quite a lot in that time period. My love for them has only continued to grow.

    Although it’s not the same shiny and new love felt in the very beginning, it’s kind of like it has matured into a long term relationship love. I love many of the clichés and cookie cutter plots so many people hate (the drama review I’m posting in a few hours is very cliché). But I have years of experience watch American soap operas before dramas, and they are heavy on clichés, tropes, and repetitive stories. And I like that stuff.

    I still find kdramas a hundred times better than most western shows. And blogging has only enhanced my love for them. One thing I try really hard to do though is to avoid too much negativity. So many “fans” seem so miserable in their drama watching that I really don’t know why they bother. Then they only have negative things to say in the forums. I think too much negativity can create certain expectations and makes more of the flaws in a drama stand out. Sometimes its better to isolate yourself a bit and not analyze things to much.

    Maybe you need a long break, re-watch some dramas you love, or try to alternate your genres you watch more? Hmm, sorry this comment ended up really long (I see a kdrama fan in need, lol). I think I may need to turn it into a post of my own 🙂 But I really hope you find something to keep the excitement going for you!

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    • You’re so sweet and well said! 120 dramas over three years! That’s a boatload of dramas. 🙂 And you also blog a few times a week! I can feel your love coming through. Don’t worry… I’ve not given up on them. Beside sporting events, kdrama is the only thing I watch on the small screen. So unless that void is filled with something else, kdrama is still my go to entertainment of choice. I’m just more discerning, spoiled by masterpieces such as Misaeng but then again, something comes along, be it a character actor like SJS or a surprising story like Page Turner, I’m totally invested again. And since I’m not one to visit forums, (for reasons you mentioned) I’m mostly oblivious of the negativity. Thanks for chiming in and for the encouragement ❤

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