Saturday, May 7, 2011

Korean Dramas

I am an escapist at heart. When things go wrong, or if there are just too many things, or if the day seems just a little bit empty, I like to bury myself in some form of fiction.

This means I read a lot, I write a little, and that I watch a truly egregious amount of television (not to mention the daydreaming). But only sometimes and usually in truly epic binges.

For those of us who enjoy an escapist binge, it is hard to do better than Korean dramas. I was introduced to the glory of Korean dramas through rageprufrock (a familiar name in many fandoms) and have pretty much never looked back. Filled with angst and pretty pretty boys, convuluted love triangles, love interests that usually start out hating each other and packing entire seasons of plot into one hour shows to the point that I always wonder what could possible go wrong next (Amnesia! They might be related! The house burns down! Now episode 2!), these shows are a gold mine, especially since there are decades of shows that I have never seen.

Two general sites that are incredibly useful if you are interested in getting into Kdrama or Jdrama (Japanese dramas are way weirder, but sometimes more satisfying) are, which has mountains of links for watching online, and kdramawiki. Also useful is keeping an eye on WITH 2 subbing team, who magically always seem to be translating the best stuff.

There is also the whole hard subbing (watching a streamed show with the subtitles added in) versus soft subbing (where you download the subtitles separately and add them somehow, and this is moderately less likely to get anyone in trouble) controversy, which is written about very persuasively elsewhere (and of course I have lost the link. Sorry!). Also, a number of these shows can be found commercially available from places like netflix or (I know American netflix has some, who knows if does).

However, due to the enormous number of these shows now available (I love watching access to previously hard-to-find items take off), I have compiled a list of my favourite shows so far. Now, my normal method of recommendation is to make high pitched noises while waving my hands around like a CRAZY person, but I recognize that this is not always the most textually useful system, so I shall attempt to make moderately more sense.

Goong (Princess of Hours) - This show is the one that started it all. A good tempered and entertaining school girl finds out her grandparents had arranged her marriage to the prince. It posits that there is still a Korean royal family, much like the one in the UK, and the outfits and set are FANTASTIC. Of course the two do NOT GET ON. My mom ended up watching this with me while we sobbed quietly at the ridiculous drama. Also, a couple of my friends have fond memories of my flailing synopsis of the convoluted linkages.

The 1st shop of Coffe Prince - Classic plot of "she gets mistaken for a boy and ends up with a job working with very pretty men at a coffee shop". But the characters in this are some of the best I have seen in any television show anywhere, and although it has a ridiculous premise, everyone deals with it in very real ways. I'm currently force feeding this series to my friends, and we are enjoying ourselves excessively. Additional link. 

Kimi wa Petto (You are my pet) - This one is Japanese and based off a manga. It is ... odder but still one of my favourites. A driven and slightly cold career woman adopts a young dancer who she finds homeless on her porch. She agrees to feed him and take care of him so long as he will keep her company as her pet "Momo". He also very grumpily complains to his friends that there is no sex. I find the Japanese fixation with finding relationships where you can be "Real" fascinating.

Other Favourites: (all deserving of their own recommendations, but I will never get this posted if I keep talking about them)

Hotaru no Himiko (Hour of the firefly?)
Hana Kimi
Boys before Flowers

But the great thing about these series is that there is one for everyone. It is actually like the past twenty years of foreign television are at your fingertips. And unlike American Soap Operas, these shows have fairly short episode lists, so they wrap it all up tidily within one season (except for the historical dramas. those go on FOREVER). So Good.

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