The Fangirls Kdrama Roundtable: To Trope or Not To Trope

FotorCreatede.jpg The Kdrama Tropes ….. Both loved and hated by various kaddicts and always a prime choice of topic.  Come join The Fangirls as we discuss our favorites and also the tropes we want to see get hit by the White Truck of Doom.



Our Favorite Tropes

CLKYTTA: Identity Switch-I love this one.  Whether it’s a girl pretending to be a guy (my personal favorite is Bromance), or a full on body swap like in Secret Garden.  This trope is always fun.

Accidental Kiss-The trip and fall kiss gets me every time. Two favorites are Flower Boy Next Door and Bride of the Century.


 KMUSE: Chaebols Run Everything – I can’t deny I totally love a good Chaebol storyline.  I am one of those people that loves a rich jerk finding love and his humanity trope and that usually means we start with a Chaebol.  To this day dramas like Secret Garden will always be my go to when I need a quick drama fix.

Crazy Mother In Law – I know this one might be controversial, but what would kdramas be without some crazy controlling mothers?  I am not saying that I want to see them in every drama, but kdramaland would be a lot less makjang if they didn’t exist.



DRAMA GEEK: Piggyback Ride – Okay, I’m a sucker for this. There’s just something cute about it. I’ve actually used it in one of my books. 🙂 I just like the idea of one of them taking care of the other. My favorite of this was when the trope was flipped on it’s head in Coffee Prince. Gong Yoo is not a small guy, and for Eun Hye to carry him like that was pretty impressive. My second favorite is probably the bromance piggyback from Pinnocchio.


Jennie: Poor Girl to Rich Girl. I’m such a sucker for a good makeover scene. But only if it’s good. Like in Healer, not Boys Over Flowers!! The girl in Healer kinda became rich at the end, right? I also love Chaebol dramas! humm… I swear I’m not Shallow.


These Tropes Needs to Die a Horrible Death

CLKYTTA: Amnesia-All this does is make me want to scream at the drama.  It happens in way too many dramas to name, but it’s a sure sign that the writer just got told they are extending by 3 episodes. (DG: I second this. I HATE it and I don’t think it’s ever made a story better.)

Hit by a car or other motor vehicle-I honestly can’t even look at a white truck/van anymore without true fear in my heart.  I have been trained that means death or a coma for someone. You Are All Surrounded had one of the saddest Truck of Doom (TOD)scenes. (DG: TODs make me scared to visit Korea. LOL)


KMUSE:  Amnesia – I agree with CLKYTTA.  Amnesia needs to die a horrible death.  It is so rarely used successfully that I can happily just chuck it out completely.  Maybe it should get hit by the white truck of doom.

Terminal Illness– I just don’t enjoy dramas that involve one of the characters dying.  That includes characters not dying on screen but it indicates that they are still going to die in the future (glaring at you Scent of a Woman)


Drama Geek: Geeeenius whatever – I get that it fits into that ideal man image. But do all the guys really have to geniuses at everything? I’m pretty sure a recent drama had a description where they were a genius at being an office worker, or maybe it was a printer or something like that. This trope couples with the poor girl who isn’t that smart and had to take the police exam 12 times just to become a cop. I’d just like to see a little more smart cops on both sides, and leave the geniuses out.

Jennie: Amnesia I agree with everyone, but Amnesia especially has to die!!

sjk 12

Sometimes I love and other times I loath

CLKYTTA: Wrist Grab-I can’t stand to see some chaebol grab a girl’s wrist and drag her off.  I like it when the girl does the wrist grab though.

Dramatic/Sad rain scene-Same as TOD, I’m conditioned to think bad things will happen to people with yellow umbrellas.  I loved the umbrella in I Miss You, and hated it in Love Rain.


KMUSE: Identity Switch – I can totally get behind a good identity switch……………unless they are doppelgangers. I am 100% anti doppelganger.  Mostly because they always have the leading man falling in love with his dead (almost always dead) love’s lookalike.  I find that creepy as heck.

Drinking Scenes – I love humorous drinking hijinks.  However, I hate when the bosses are forcing their poor workers to get plastered in some stupid idea that it shows their loyalty.  I just saw a scene in Monster where the guy tries to bow out because he has alcohol problems.  In the end he was forced to drink because of his jerk of a boss and pushy co-workers.  Being someone who doesn’t drink, I find that totally offensive.


Drama Geek: I don’t have a specific one for this. Just a thought in general. Just like in any other type of medium, I think Kdramas excel when they move away from the tropes or use them to their advantage. Some of my all time favorite characters do not fit into any trope or mold. But then again some of my favorite characters are the epitome of a trope. It really is all in how the writer and actor put their own twist on it. I’d love to see a lot more Lee Jae-Han’s, but I’d die if there weren’t anymore Healers or Do Min Joons.

Jennie: Wrist Grab I’m glad CLKYTTA said it first. I happen to love this one 80% of the time. I just hate when it gets so extreme the guy is jerking a girl around everywhere. I’m looking at you Secret Hotel! Bad, drama, bad!


Wow!  So many tropes to talk about and so little time.  After I had written my segment I also started thinking of others that are not on the list.  Where is the love for shower scenes and dramatic wall leans?  We might just have to do a second post on this topic in the future.  What about you?  What are your favorite and most hated tropes?  Be sure to let us know in the comments.  We always love hearing from our readers.

Til next time,

The Fangirls

SJK 6.jpg

Thanks to DomHyo for the awesome graphic that inspired this post.  Check them out on Facebook



11 thoughts on “The Fangirls Kdrama Roundtable: To Trope or Not To Trope

  1. The white truck of Doom! It’s so over used that if I see one in a drama I start getting nervous. My favorite is probably the “we are forced to live together” trope. So much room for getting to know each other and discovering all the good/bad things about each other. Also shower scenes, lots of shower scenes with brooding and wetness.

  2. Oh yeah! Cohabitation hijinks for the win. It’s why even though I hear your voice had one heck of a scary serial killer, I was still grateful to him for getting our OTP under the same roof. Haha.

    The one trope I can’t stand? Amnesia. A few times, it’s used properly. But most of the time, it’s just plain bad.

  3. Cohabitation (or enforced working together) is a favorite one of mine. It works across cultures (I’ve seen it in American, Japanese, Korean, French and Thai tv) and provides opportunity for humor, romance and personal growth. My least favorite is the controlling mother. I can understand a controlling father situation as a possible cultural mark of manhood but mothers who want nothing more than to control what you do, who you do it with and when you will do it? The worst. A close second would be when children are abused (verbally or physically) because of what their parents have done. As a mystery lover, I am secretly in love with amnesia but only if it is used as an aid in solving a mystery.

    Although I absolutely hate some some dramaland tropes, I recognize that they’re part of the reason I keep coming back for more … there’s a comfort in familiarity. Even amnesia has its moments (I loved it in Master’s Sun), and though I’m not a fan of noble idiocy and time jumps, sometimes they too help to heighten the delicious angst. They’re almost like ingredients, and as with all ingredients, you need to get the right mix to get the right taste. The list of ingredients really is endless: back hugs, bug-eyed kisses, staring intensely at sleeping love interests and (almost) touching their hair, stalking as a form of courtship, drunken heroines embarrassing themselves, fan-girling and bullying gone major league, students who love their teachers a bit too much and vice versa, flashbacks that keep flashing back, swoony second leads that you break your heart over, flower boys and idols, noonas getting their groove back with hot young things, people yelling “you want to die” at each other or “fighting!”, and just yelling in general, Engrish (really bad English … abnoormally bad … not a trope, but definitely a thing). If there’s a pool, someone will drown in it. If the heroine works too hard (and she usually does, as a consequence of holding three dozen part-time jobs) then she will have a nosebleed. If there is a ladder then the heroine will fall off it and invariably land on the hero’s lips. If someone’s heart is breaking (never happens obviously) then they need to get hooked to an IV … because the flu is a serious thing in Korea. Mix it together and presto, a tasty Kdrama.

  5. I don’t know what you call it but I HATE it whenever a character doesn’t want to answer a phone call and then he/she bothers to put out the battery of his/her phone instead of just turning it off which is so much easier.

  6. most tropes annoy me on various levels tbh, but i also DO like the cohabitation trope! 🙂 it’s usually such a stretch for kdramas to get leads to connect in any real & meaningful way where they actually know each other quite well, yet this one trope slices through all that and gives us some ‘real’ interaction. awesome! ^^ *hooray for another hae young *

    least favorite tropes: evil mil’s, evil mothers, spoiled & entitled chaebol brats getting away with everything, and last but not least 20 & 30 something women acting like 12 year olds when they are kissed. soooo annoying lol

  7. Trope or not I love shower scenes. They can use this trope in any drama I watch as long as he is hot. The bath scene in Y2-K wasn’t bad either LOL. I also like it when the person in love stares at their loved one while they sleep. I think this is so sweet and because I have never loved anyone that much or had anyone love me that much I’m jealous. The wrist grab is “iffy” with me. If it is done in a moment of passion I like it. If it is done out of possesion of a person I’m not into that. I hate tropes where the girl is supposed to be ugly, dumb, or submissive. I hate the ugly one because most of the time the girl is not even ugly even if you put a tent on her and hiddeous glasses. I also dislike “dumb” girls such as in ISWAK. I like this drama but come on how did Xiang Qin even live to be in high school. I hated the scene where she couldn’t get out of the banner. I think it was meant to be humorous but I found it to be so irritating. If I was Zhi Shu I would have never fell for her no matter how much she stalked me. In keeping with the Itazura na Kiss theme I found Oh Ha Ni to be way to submissive. She let him talk to her cruelly even saying he regretted he asked her to marry him and then she chose her career (and even said it out loud) based on wanting to be with Seung Jo. Of course later she finds a more substantial reason to be a nurse but it still boiled down to her wanting to cling to him for life. I also dislike kisses that are supposed to be dramatic but they are not even kissing mouth to mouth. It is like oops I missed but the other person is shocked by the gesture or perhaps they are really shocked by the lack of kissing skills. In connection with this I do not like it that the girl stands there with her arms to her side and stiff as a board as he administers this supposed kiss. I mean push him away if you hate it or put your arm around his neck if you would like to encourage him to actually kiss you. 😀

  8. I know this is an old post but y’all should watch goblin and shopping king louie, amnesia done correctly (*´∇`*)

    Btw i like white truck of doom when they came unexpectedly like when that asshole human Nam Shin get hit by that truck of doom.
    Nam Shin is walking peacefully then out of nowhere BOOM he’s in a coma.

    Accidental kiss should die, replace it with accidental “I just finished showering and doesn’t wear anything then you accidentally saw my ding dong” scene (Age of youth 2, Jang Hoon scene)

Leave a Reply