Friday, April 25, 2008

Drama, Drama, Drama! Part II: Formula


Any story has a beginning and an end. Usually something happens in between, like falling in love, breaking up, death, birth and so on. For Korean TV dramas there seems to be a very familiar formula.
Here it is:
Take a guy and a girl:

1. Make sure that when they first meet it is under unbearable conditions.

For Example: You are this young lady in the picture and you happen to run a tour guide business. The tour is over and your job is to make sure the people on your bus get to their airplane on time. But for some reason you are late. So then you run up to the gate terminal and beg to get inside the plane to save it from taking off. You pretend to cry as if your boyfriend is on the plane. Once you made your way inside you find this guy (pictured on the left) and pretend he is your boyfriend. You emberass him and yourself in the process of pretending to be lovers. Meaning that from now on you two will be enemies because of meeting in an unpleasant way.

2. Make sure this "couple" has to be, for some reason, around each other all the time.

For Example: This guy has a serious family issue. His Grandfather's Granddaughter has been missing for a long time. It is this guy's mission to find the missing Granddaughter and bring his ailing Grandfather back to health. What do you do? Well you make this girl (the one who knows how to fake circumstances, pretty well) pretend to be the Granddaughter. Now the two must live with each other in the same house, despite the fact that they hate each other's guts.

3. Despite their initial feelings for each other they start to fall in love.
For example: At some point they start to like each other. Usually the guy starts to think the girl is cute in her devilish ways or the girl thinks the guy is cute when he is angry or frustrated. Either way the story gets built up this way. Here you can see that the guy is overcome with his feelings for her after seeing her in the hospital.

4. Throw in another guy who loves the girl too, but he can't have her.
For example: This guy is either related to the main guy or is an outsider. Try as he might the storyline formula just won't let them be together.

5. Make sure that there is either an ex-girlfriend or main girlfriend for the main guy, so that the storyline has a bit of jealousy.
6. Sh*T Happens: Maybe someone dies, maybe someone becomes on the verge of death, maybe something really controversial is revealed...whatever it is make sure it has such a big impact that it makes the two love-birds split apart.
7. Happy Endings: Because that is what life is really about, right? I mean they build the whole story to leave you feeling happy in the end, right?
Well I haven't watched every single Korean Drama out there but I can say this is pretty much it for them. Heck, it even worked for the drama The First Shop of Coffee Prince, where a girl acts so un-girly that a guy believes her to be a guy and makes her part of his coffee shop staff. And yes they do fall in love, and he thinks he is falling in love with a man...but he figures out she is a girl in the end.
So there you would have it. The Formula for Korean dramas...the same can be extended to some Korean movies that follow this kind of fluff fan-fair.
Bo Kwan even tells me he sometimes can't stand this canned kind of formula and finds American drama to be more refreshing and interesting than the stuff he sees back home.

Although ultimately cheesy and predictable you either end up enjoying watching Korean drama or just want to skip to the ending so to save yourself the agony of whether these two will ever kiss or be together.
This ends Part II of my Drama analysis post. I will create Drama Part III when the time comes.
So folks....
Stay tuned...


  1. oh korean dramas. i love and hate them, lol. so when are you heading to korea? i'm heading to seoul in july and curious about others.

  2. As a person living in America I really want to say,
    I HATE American dramas or shows.
    Grey's Anatomy? barf. LOST? blah.
    of course there are some good ones and some I can stand but most . . I canNOT stand after a few episodes.

    and about korean dramas being more in the soap opera category, what about Gossip Girl or the OC?
    those so unbelievably popular dramas are more soapoperaish than any korean drama I've seen.

    what I mean to say is that I think the "soap opera"ish theme is pretty universal, also your formula is definitely a reoccurring very constant theme in American shows. It's not just for korean shows.

    If I could give you some advice I think it's best to research dramas before you commit to watching them, there is actually big variety to korean dramas.
    there is actually a pretty different korean drama that I'm obsessing over currently called The Story of a Man, the acting, directing, style, & esp the plot is very tight knit and impressive
    I really Really really REALLLLLLLLY suggest to you
    she has a thorough and very informative info for MANY dramas, i think maybe u should search around a little.
    I actually learned of The Story of a Man there.

    I'm sorry this commetn was so long, and I NOT criticizing you I think maybe u should get to know kdramas a bit more.
    I really hope you check out the site!!

  3. Since writing this pose I have watched more drama both with subtitles and not. And have gotten to see more of a breadth of it. I agree with you that there are some really good ones out there. ^^


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