Embracing the Korean drama


Joe Youngblood

K-dramas regularly have viewers binge watching entire series at a time.

Carla Alvarado, Copy Editor

  Korean dramas, also known as K-dramas, have been gaining popularity over the last decade after becoming more accessible online. With streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and VIKI Rakuten offering subtitles for a wide range of K-dramas, it became easily accessible for people around the world. These dramas are not your typical drama shows you spot on American television; watching even just one biweekly will have you hooked.  

  There are three things to consider before you start to watch K-dramas, as Korean dramas have different expectations. Here’s three things to keep in mind: 

K-dramas are not bound by genre standards 

  K-dramas are not focused on just being a dramatic show. These shows intend to cross boundaries to successfully utilize the best aspects of other genres. K-dramas are known for having lots of romance, action, supernatural, comedy, and horror elements. This combination regularly has viewers falling in love.  

K-dramas typically only include one season 

  With each series typically only being one season long, they usually consist of 16 to 20 episodes. As they will have the beginning, middle and end to the entire show in just one season, the shows move at a much faster pace than what viewers may be used to.  

   “Korean dramas have the perfect length. People don’t get bored with how lengthy it is,” Regina Carlos, a third year CSU Bakersfield psychology and English major, wrote when explaining her long-time fascination with the genre.  

 You won’t have to wait a year to finally find out if your favorite characters get to live happily ever after in the season. 

They present an opportunity to learn about another culture 

 As viewers potentially learn about a new culture, they also get the opportunity to learn more about Korean actors. This may even prompt some viewers to want to learn a new language.  

  One of the many things that keep others from watching movies or shows is the language barrier. 

  “Just because learning other languages, especially ones like Korean, Thai, or Vietnamese, aren’t stressed in our school systems, it doesn’t mean that learning foreign languages isn’t stressed in other countries,” Madison Child from the WorldKpopCulture.wordpress.com blog writes. 

  For those who are open to experiencing K-dramas, there are multiple platforms that give you the option to view with subtitles, including YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu.  

  CSUB students Cecila Perales and Aisha Prieto note that they don’t mind watching foreign language productions with subtitles, especially as they both keep the subtitles on even when they watch productions in English.  

  Perales and Prieto both point out that there isn’t really much difference between using subtitles for English and foreign productions, begging the question: why are people so opposed to giving K-dramas a chance? 

“People just prefer not to watch movies and T.V. shows that are out of their language just because they will have to read subtitles,” Carlos explains, indicating that the problem lies with subtitles themselves. 

  However, many viewers believe that the content of the show is worth the extra effort that may be needed to read the subtitles. Where a long-running American drama may begin to grow tiresome to watch despite the lack of subtitles, K-dramas tell fast-paced stories full of cliff-hangers (which are typically answered) that make viewers forget about the effort that goes into watching them for the duration of the series. This is why it is so shocking when a K-drama does release a second season. 

  For those who are open to experiencing K-dramas, here are a few of my favorites to sit back and enjoy:


Romance is a Bonus Book (2019) 

Drama, romance, comedy 

 This comedic romantic drama stars actors Lee Jong-Suk, Lee Na-Young and Jung Eugene. The 16-episode South Korean drama follows a handsome writer as he goes about day to day life as the young chief editor at a publishing company. 

 Taking an interest in his childhood friend Kang Dan-Yi, a once popular copywriter, who took a hiatus after her first daughter was born. As Kang Dan-Yi struggles with her life as an unemployed single mom, she is forced to lie to those around her to obtain work at his publishing company, lying about her background.  

  As they become involved in each other’s lives again, a love story begins to unfold.  

  Where to watch: Netflix  


 Memories of the Alhambra (2018)  

Romantic drama 

  Starring actors Hyun Bin, Park Shin Hye, Park Chan Yeol and Min Jin Woong, the 16-episode South Korean drama that tells the story of Yoo Jin Woo and Jung Heel Joo. 

   Yoo Jin-Woo is a CEO of an investment company who enjoys developing video games. After receiving a mysterious call one night from someone in Spain who has developed a game of interest, he ends up at a hostel that Jung Hee Joo owns.  

  They are both drawn into a series of strange and unexpected events. 

  Where to watch: Netflix  


Strong Girl Bong-Soon (2017) 

Action, comedy, drama  

  Starring actors Park Bo-Young, Park Hyun-Sik, Ji Soo, An Woo-Yeon, and Seol In-A, the show follows Bong-Soon. Born with a hereditarily female superhuman like strength, her dream is to create a video game with herself as the main character. 

  While defending herself during an assault, CEO Min-Hyuk observes Bong-Soon’s abnormal strength. Having recently been victim of death threats from an unknown source, he decides to hire Bong-Soon as his own bodyguard. 

  Where to watch: VIKI Rakuten 


 Hotel del Luna (2019) 

  Romantic comedy-drama starring actors IU and Yeo Jin-Goo, “Hotel del Luna” is a South Korean drama with 16 episodes. “Hotel del Luna” takes place in the middle of Seoul, South Korea, where an old beyond the eye building is not what it seems to be, and only people with the sixth sense can see. Running the hotel is Jang Man-Wol, who has been cursed and bound to the hotel for thousands of years due to a sin she committed thousands of years ago. Things take a turn when Goo Chan-Sung is to manage Hotel del Luna due to a deal his father made with Man-Wol years ago.  

Where to watch: VIKI Rakuten  


Crash Landing on You (2019) 

Romantic drama 

 The 16-epsiode South Korean drama stars actors Hyun-Bin, Son Ye-Jin, and Seo Ji-Hye 

  The series follows Yoon Se-Ri, heiress to a conglomerate in South Korea, who finds herself in North Korea. 

 When heavy winds force her to perform an emergency landing while paragliding, she finds herself in North Korea. North Korean army officer Ry Jeon-Hyeok tries protecting her, launching them both into a dangerous love story. 

  Where to watch: Netflix  


Itaewon Class (2020)  

  Starring actors Park Seo-Joon, Kim Da-Mi, Kim Dong-Hee, Ryoo Kyung-Soo, Lee Joo-Young and Chris Lyon, this has become one of the most talked about dramas today. 

  Much of the show’s success stems from the boundaries broken throughout the series. “Itaewon Class” is a drama that displays such a wide diversity of characters, including a transgender character and character of color.  

  The 16-episode drama takes you into the life of Park Sae-Ro-Yi. His life is permanently changed when his father is killed in a motorcycle accident caused by Jang Geun-Won, the show’s bully. As a result, Park Sae-Ro-Yi is determined to destroy and take revenge on Jang Geun-Won and his father. 

  After he is released from prison, he opens a restaurant in Itaewon, Seoul. Jo Yi-Seo joins Park Sae-Ro-Yi’s restaurant as a manager. After she starts to have feelings for Park Sae-Ro-Yi, the drama begins to unfold new and true feelings between the two. 

Where to watch: Netflix 


  While these are only a few of the many amazing K-dramas available to stream, these will hopefully help open-minded viewers give the genre a chance. Korean dramas are worth the binge for those who are looking for a shorter series to watch. Grab some snacks, make yourself a drink, and try to enjoy something that may be new to you.